18 May 2006

S2M-4091 Reduced Ignition Potential Cigarettes

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 18 May 2006

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]

... ... ...

Reduced Ignition Potential Cigarettes

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Murray Tosh): The final item of business is a members' business debate on motion S2M-4091, in the name of Stewart Maxwell, on reduced ignition potential cigarettes. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament acknowledges that deaths resulting from fires, of which there were 99 in 2004, are a major concern in Scotland; recognises that they are significantly higher in Scotland than the rest of the United Kingdom and that the majority of fire deaths in Scotland occur in the West of Scotland; notes with concern that smoking materials are one of the leading causes of fires in Scotland and that 50% of all smoking-related fire deaths occur in the West of Scotland; believes that the Scottish Parliament should commit to actively pursuing policies aimed at reducing the number of fire deaths in the West of Scotland and within Scotland as a whole; recognises the role that Reduced Ignition Potential (RIP) cigarettes, commonly referred to as fire-safe cigarettes, could play in reducing damage to property as well as the overall number of fires, fire injuries and fire deaths; supports the implementation of a new fire safety law that would require all cigarettes sold in Scotland to be RIP cigarettes; welcomes the decision of the Chief Fire Officers' Association in Scotland to support the call for the introduction of fire-safe cigarettes; congratulates Canada and New York for introducing such laws and recognises that the introduction of fire-safe cigarettes would have a significant and positive impact on the number of fire fatalities in Scotland, and believes that the Scottish government should bring forward legislation to introduce this fire safety measure as soon as possible in the hope that Scotland can truly say RIP to fires caused by cigarettes.


... ... ...


Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): It gives me much pleasure to lock horns once again with Brian Monteith on the subject of smoking. I suspect that, as in the past, we will remain implacable opponents of each other's point of view.

Throughout their history, tobacco companies have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to serve the public good, and I am not all that surprised to find that nothing has changed in that regard. As for the suggestion that they should receive tax incentives for introducing reduced ignition potential cigarettes, I note that, in the most recent quarter, British American Tobacco's profits were £688 million—a £42 million increase on the corresponding quarter in the previous year. Companies that trade in public misery can be persuaded by the law, if not by public opinion, to serve the public good and to produce RIP cigarettes.

Actually, this is not a new invention. The first patent for a self-extinguishing cigarette was taken out in the United States in 1854, and a considerable number of similar patents have been taken out since then.

In 1984, the US Congress enacted a bill that sought to progress the technical, economic and commercial feasibility of such cigarettes. We have talked for long enough. In this legislature, as elsewhere, we must find out what opportunities exist to do something. The Canadians, who often have a lot of good sense, have taken the necessary steps. On 30 March 2004, they introduced legislation that was intended to make fire-safe cigarettes mandatory by the end of 2004.

I accept one thing that Brian Monteith said: the greatest risk is to people who are alone at home. A report by Her Majesty's chief inspector of fire services for Scotland showed that 90.2 per cent of fire injuries—not deaths—took place in dwellings and that 68.9 per cent of people who died in fires lived alone. That illustrates the value that there would be to smokers who cannot kick the pernicious habit of smoking of being assisted by the material that they smoke extinguishing itself in a much shorter time than might otherwise be the case. Such assistance would be important because there would be no one else in the house to protect them from the folly of smoking and the difficulties that might arise from their falling asleep with a cigarette in their hand. Furthermore, the statistics show that that value would be skewed towards older people.

I do not often commend what comes from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but it has at least carried out research from which it is clear that it is possible to reduce the length of a cigarette's burn quite substantially when the cigarette is unattended or not being sucked. The ODPM's investigation was conclusive: there would be significant benefits.

What can the Scottish Parliament do without passing primary legislation? There are several provisions in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 that the minister could act on in a short space of time. For example, I refer to section 55 of that act, which is on fire safety measures. Under section 55(3)(d), people must take cognisance of "technical progress", which might lead ministers to require by an order that is approved by the Parliament that prisoners can smoke only safe cigarettes, if such things can be said to exist.

Similarly, section 57 of the 2005 act, which is entitled "Risk assessments: power to make regulations", states:

"Scottish ministers may make regulations about the carrying out of assessments and reviews".

In particular, the regulations may make provision for or in connection with

"specifying matters which persons must take into account when carrying out assessments and reviews in relation to substances specified in the regulations".

There are things that the minister can do in that respect.

I congratulate my colleague Stewart Maxwell on returning to the fray in raising the issue of the concomitant dangers for human beings of using tobacco and commend his motion to the minister, from whom we are about to hear. I suspect that he will broadly agree with the motion, but I am particularly interested—as others will be—in any particular actions that he thinks we can pursue in the short term. I wish every speed to the introduction of reduced ignition potential cigarettes, pending our no longer smoking cigarettes of any kind.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP