The Joseph Moakley Fire Safe Memorial Cigarette Act of 2002
THE JOSEPH MOAKLEY FIRE SAFE MEMORIAL CIGARETTE ACT OF 2002
HON. EDWARD J. MARKEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, April 25, 2002
Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Joseph Moakley
Memorial Fire Safe Cigarette Act of 2002, a culmination of over 20
years of effort to make cigarettes fire-safe by the true champion of
this cause my good friend and colleague the late, great Representative
Joseph Moakely. I introduce this bill today with my Republican
colleague in the House Representative Jim Hansen (R-UT), the entire
Joe first became involved with this issue when a family of seven
perished in a fire in his Congressional District ignited by a
cigarette. Five children--all under the age of ten--were burned to
death along with their parents. This terrible event took place on
Memorial Day Weekend in 1979.
For over twenty years Joe fought to give the CPSC authority to
promulgate a fire safety standard for cigarettes. Because of Joe's
relentless efforts, two technical bills passed into law laying the
foundation for fire-safe cigarette legislation.
The first bill, the Federal Cigarette Safety Act of 1984, mandated
the formation of a Technical Study Group, which ultimately established
that it was technically and economically feasible to make a fire-
resistant cigarette. This was an extremely important step providing
Congress with proof that it was possible to create a cigarette that
could be altered in such a way as to significantly reduce its tendency
to catch fire. Prior to this report, the tobacco industry argued that
the technology to make cigarettes fire-safe was not feasible and that
the standard would render their products commercially unviable. During
this era, Joe recognized that the industry had successfully shifted the
fire-resistance burden from cigarettes to mattresses, furniture and
pajamas. As Joe liked to put it, the industry's solution was ``to fire-
proof the world against our torches.
The other important bill the Joe saw to passage was the The Federal
Safe Cigarette Act of 1990, which established the methodology for
testing the ignition propensity of cigarettes.
This methodology literally paved the way for New York to pass a fire-
safe cigarette bill in 2000. And it set the stage for the establishment
of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology fire-safe
cigarette standard which is included in the bill introduced today.
What's more, there is already a fire-safe cigarette manufactured by
Phillip Morris on the market. Tobacco companies once suspicious of a
fire-safe cigarette standard are now demonstrating coming around. In
fact, Phillip Morris endorses the language in this bill, along with The
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and The Congressional Fire Services
Institute, which includes the Foundation for American Fire Fighters,
National Volunteer Fire Council and the Fire Department Safety Officers
Association. It has also been endorsed by SAFE--Safer America For
Each year thousands of innocent people are killed, maimed or
permanently disfigured by carelessly discarded cigarettes. Under a
typical cigarette fire scenario, the smoker falls asleep in bed or on a
sofa with a burning cigarette, the ash smolders, then bursts into
flames often in the middle of the night--a time when everyone is least
It is common knowledge that smoking is considered one of the nation's
leading causes of preventable death, but it's less widely known that
cigarettes are the leading cause of fatal fires. This translates to
close to 1,000 deaths annually and nearly 2,400 injuries due to
cigarette-caused fires. According to the Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) these fires account for $4.6 Billion annually in
societal costs and direct property damage.
The victims of these fires aren't just smokers--all too often they
are the innocent and unsuspecting. A child asleep in an upstairs
bedroom, an elderly neighbor who lives next door, or a brave
firefighter called to the scene. But the real tragedy in these lost
lives is that these fires can be prevented.
The Joseph Moakley Fire Safe Memorial Cigarette Bill establishes a
strong federal firesafe cigarette standard by:
Requiring the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to establish
the standard specified in the legislation, by which cigarettes could be
regulated with respect to their propensity to start fires.
Giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission authority over
cigarettes only for purposes of implementing and enforcing compliance
with the standard promulgated under the Act.
Allowing for the future establishment of an enhanced fire-safety
And allowing states to pass more stringent fire-safety standards for
cigarettes if they choose.
Today Joe's tenacity is paying dividends. This country is closer than
ever to making Joe's ``torches self-extinguishable, and the horror of
cigarette-caused fires a tragedy of the past.
On April 27th Joe Moakley would have celebrated his 75th birthday.
Joe spent his entire career improving the lives of his constituents and
fighting for important causes like this fire-safe cigarette standard--
his spirit lives on in this legislation. I can think of no better
birthday gift and no better way to honor his memory than to pass this
fire-safe cigarette standard this year so that another 1,000 lives
won't be lost next year.