Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Lungs

Cigarettes Cause Nearly 25% of All Fires in the United States
In a potential new front in the tobacco wars, the city of Philadelphia is considering a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against tobacco companies to recover the costs of fighting fires caused by cigarettes.

"We're looking at the fire department, this huge part of our budget, being expended because cigarette companies won't make safer products," said lawyer Stephen Sheller, hired by Philadelphia's mayor to study the feasibility of the lawsuit.

Cigarettes cause 23% of the city of Philadelphia's fires and approximately 25% of all fires in the US. Cigarettes are the single leading cause of fires in the nation.

Internal tobacco industry documents show that tobacco companies deliberately put chemicals in cigarettes that allow them to burn without constant puffing. The result is a more ignitable product.

Richard Daynard, who heads the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University School of Law, says juries could be sympathetic toward plaintiffs who are injured or killed due to a fire caused by someone who fell asleep with a lighted cigarette.

A decision about filing a lawsuit, which would also seek to recover costs for smoking-related illnesses, will likely come within a few months.

Special thanks to CCAA member Laura Robey for submitting this article.

USA TODAY, (3/18/99) "Lawyers Eye Suits Over Cigarettes' Role In Fires", Wendy Koch, p. A1

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