Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

03/31/2006 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 415(JUD) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 03/29/06>
Heard & Held
HB 413 - BURNING CAPABILITY OF CIGARETTES                                                                                     
2:44:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON   announced  that  the  next   order  of                                                               
business would  be HOUSE BILL  NO. 413,  "An Act relating  to the                                                               
burning capability  of cigarettes  being sold, offered  for sale,                                                               
or  possessed for  sale; and  providing for  an effective  date."                                                               
[Before the committee was CSHB 413(STA).]                                                                                       
2:45:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE  JOULE, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
explained that  HB 413  relates to  slowing/snubbing the  burn of                                                               
cigarettes.     He   informed  the   committee  that   New  York,                                                               
California,  Washington, Vermont,  and Massachusetts  have passed                                                               
laws  to  require  that  cigarettes  be  packed  differently  and                                                               
utilize rolling paper with what  he referred to as "speed bumps."                                                               
These speed  bumps would cause  the cigarette, when  not actively                                                               
being smoked,  to extinguish.   Therefore, this would  save lives                                                               
and avoid property damage.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  relayed that  the  college  intern in  his                                                               
office,  Mikayla Saito,  has conducted  research which  indicates                                                               
that  self-snubbing  cigarettes  were  developed in  1932.    For                                                               
whatever  reason, the  federal government  has failed  to utilize                                                               
this  technology,  and  therefore individual  states  are  taking                                                               
action.   Additionally,  in 2003,  the entire  country of  Canada                                                               
adopted  the requirements  regarding  the  burning capability  of                                                               
cigarettes.  Representative Joule  emphasized that HB 413 doesn't                                                               
change the  composition of the  cigarette or  add to the  cost of                                                               
its production.   In conclusion,  Representative Joule  urged the                                                               
passage of HB 413.                                                                                                              
2:48:25 PM                                                                                                                    
WARREN  CUMMINGS,  President,   Alaska  Fire  Chiefs  Association                                                               
(AFCA);  Fire Chief,  City of  Fairbanks, provided  the following                                                               
     The  Alaska   Fire  Chiefs  Association,   the  largest                                                                    
     membership  of  fire  service managers  in  Alaska,  is                                                                    
     dedicated  to serving  the needs  and issues  that face                                                                    
     Alaska's fire  service.   We would  like to  inform you                                                                    
     that  [the AFCA]  ... strongly  supports the  Fire Safe                                                                    
     Cigarette Act - [HB 413]  - and encourage your yes vote                                                                    
     when  this   legislation  comes  before  you   on  this                                                                    
     Committee and the  House floor.  [House  Bill 413] will                                                                    
     prohibit  the  sale,  manufacture, or  distribution  of                                                                    
     cigarettes  in  Alaska  that  do  not  meet  fire  safe                                                                    
     standards  established  by   the  American  Society  of                                                                    
     Testing and Materials (ASTM).                                                                                              
     Careless smoking  is the leading  cause of  fire deaths                                                                    
     in Alaska.   From  1995-2004, careless smoking,  as the                                                                    
     fire  cause,  resulted  in 27.6  percent  of  all  fire                                                                    
     deaths in Alaska.   This type of fire  killed 45 people                                                                    
     in Alaska  during the past  10 years.  These  costs are                                                                    
     simply too  great.  Fortunately, an  effective solution                                                                    
     to this  problem lies within  your reach.   California,                                                                    
     New  York  and  Vermont  have  already  passed  similar                                                                    
     legislation to  protect their residents.   We hope that                                                                    
     you  will  do  your  part to  accomplish  the  same  in                                                                    
     On behalf of the 144  members of the Alaska Fire Chiefs                                                                    
     Association, we thank you  for considering our support,                                                                    
     and we hope that you will vote  yes on HB 413 - a life-                                                                    
     saving piece of legislation.                                                                                               
2:50:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CAROL REED,  Alaska Fire Standards  Council (AFSC),  provided the                                                               
following testimony:                                                                                                            
     The  Alaska  Fire   Standards  Council  represents  the                                                                    
     public, industry,  and the fire  service in  matters of                                                                    
     fire  training  and  safety  standards.    The  members                                                                    
     represent all geographic areas of  the state of Alaska.                                                                    
     The [AFSC]  ... unanimously  supports HB  413.   In our                                                                    
     professional  experience  we  have seen  all  too  many                                                                    
     fires caused  by careless ...  use of  cigarettes, many                                                                    
     resulting in fire fatalities.   Over the past 10 years,                                                                    
     24 percent of all fatal  fires in Alaska were caused by                                                                    
     the careless  use of cigarettes.   This is  the leading                                                                    
     cause of fire  deaths in Alaska.   The (indisc.) number                                                                    
     of  fatal  fires  would  have  been  avoided  with  the                                                                    
     reduced burning  capability cigarettes, as noted  in HB
     413.   We ask you  to take  a significant step  for ...                                                                    
     fire and life safety by passing this important bill.                                                                       
2:52:46 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY  POWELL,  Director  State   Fire  Marshal,  Central  Office,                                                               
Division of  Fire Prevention, Department of  Public Safety (DPS),                                                               
began by relaying the department's support  of HB 413.  He echoed                                                               
earlier testimony  regarding the  problem of fires  being started                                                               
from careless  cigarette [smokers].  [This  legislation provides]                                                               
the means to address that  problem.  He offered his understanding                                                               
that  24-26 percent  of Alaska's  fire fatalities  are caused  by                                                               
cigarettes.   However, often those  who die  in the fire  are not                                                               
smokers  themselves.   Mr. Powell  acknowledged that  this matter                                                               
could  be addressed  through  regulation of  the  items that  are                                                               
ignited, but  he opined that  it would be an  overwhelming amount                                                               
of  regulation.   Reducing the  burning capability  of cigarettes                                                               
will  result in  far fewer  fires [being  caused by  cigarettes].                                                               
Mr. Powell surmised  that there are not too  many valid arguments                                                               
in opposition to this.                                                                                                          
2:55:39 PM                                                                                                                    
RUSS  HAVEN,  Legislative  Counsel,   New  York  Public  Interest                                                               
Research  Group (NYPIRG),  highlighted that  the NYPIRG  took the                                                               
lead  in lobbying  for [a  similar]  New York  state statute  and                                                               
closely  monitored and  participated in  the almost  three-and-a-                                                               
half-year  regulatory process  to achieve  what's been  similarly                                                               
proposed via HB 413.  The standard  in HB 413 is the same as that                                                               
of  New  York,  Vermont,  California, and  Canada.    The  change                                                               
required under this proposal is  inexpensive, will go practically                                                               
unnoticed by  the consumer,  and will have  no impact  on tobacco                                                               
sales  in  terms of  the  tax  revenues.   The  preliminary  data                                                               
regarding fire  deaths from cigarettes  indicates that  there has                                                               
been a  48 percent  drop in cigarette  fire deaths  over previous                                                               
years.   More importantly,  as smokers  are driven  inside during                                                               
the winter months, one would  observe more fires, but that wasn't                                                               
the case after New York's cigarette fire safety law was enacted.                                                                
MR.  HAVEN clarified  that  the technology  consists  of using  a                                                               
different wrapping  paper that has slightly  thicker bands around                                                               
the cigarette barrel that cause  an unattended cigarette reaching                                                               
this  band  to  stop  the  burning.    The  aforementioned  makes                                                               
tremendous  sense,  especially  given  that  cigarettes  are  the                                                               
leading  cause of  fire  deaths  across the  nation.   Mr.  Haven                                                               
encouraged the legislature  to pass HB 413.  He  then pointed out                                                               
that committee packets should include  a fact sheet that provides                                                               
answers to  some of the  basic questions about  "reduced ignition                                                               
propensity" laws and regulations.                                                                                               
MR. HAVEN characterized the reduced  ignition propensity laws and                                                               
regulations as  a win-win  situation.   And because  Congress has                                                               
been far  too close to  the tobacco  industry, he said  he didn't                                                               
expect anything positive  from Congress.  Therefore,  the hope is                                                               
that  as  more states  pass  these  laws,  the industry  will  be                                                               
encouraged  to  produce  fire  safe  cigarettes  for  the  entire                                                               
country.  Mr.  Haven opined that although  these aren't fireproof                                                               
cigarettes, they greatly reduce the  risk of fire and will likely                                                               
help in  the reduction  of [all  types] of fires.   He  urged the                                                               
committee  to visit  the  fire safe  cigarettes  web site,  which                                                               
includes  a  video  of  a   fire  marshal  comparing  a  standard                                                               
incendiary cigarette and a fire safe compliant cigarette.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT inquired as to how  long New York has had the                                                               
fire safe compliant cigarettes.                                                                                                 
MR. HAVEN  informed the committee  that the regulation  went into                                                               
effect  June 28,  2004.    However, he  noted  that  many of  the                                                               
tobacco companies shifted production  to these cigarettes earlier                                                               
than the  effective date.   He further noted that  retailers were                                                               
allowed to sell off any old  cigarettes with a tax stamp prior to                                                               
the effective  date.   Mr. Haven characterized  it as  a seamless                                                               
transition  for wholesalers,  retailers, and  manufacturers.   In                                                               
further  response to  Representative  Kott,  Mr. Haven  specified                                                               
that a February 2005 Harvard  School of Public Health study found                                                               
that  the fire  safe cigarettes  aren't any  more harmful  to the                                                               
smoker than  a regular cigarette.   He noted that the  fact sheet                                                               
attached  to  his  testimony  specifies  the  web  site  for  the                                                               
3:04:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said that he  would provide that information                                                               
to  the committee  as well  as  other information  that has  been                                                               
ANDREW  McGUIRE,  National  Fire Protection  Association  (NFPA),                                                               
opined that  [fire-safe cigarettes]  are an  idea whose  time has                                                               
come.   He  informed the  committee that  legislation similar  to                                                               
HB 413  is likely  to  become law  in Illinois  in  the next  few                                                               
weeks.  Furthermore, similar legislation  might pass in Maryland.                                                               
He  noted   that  nine  other   states,  including   Alaska,  are                                                               
considering [similar  legislation].   He offered his  belief that                                                               
if  a  few  more  states   pass  similar  legislation,  cigarette                                                               
companies will  have no choice  but to make  fire-safe cigarettes                                                               
for the entire nation.                                                                                                          
MR.  McGUIRE relayed  that fairly  recently, Phillip  Morris, the                                                               
largest  cigarette manufacturer  in  the  U.S., stopped  opposing                                                               
state   [fire   safe   cigarette]   legislation;   he   therefore                                                               
interpreted that to mean that  the company will start making fire                                                               
safe cigarettes for all states.   However, other cigarette makers                                                               
are continuing  to oppose  such legislation.   In  conclusion, he                                                               
urged Alaska to join other  states in passing fire safe cigarette                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON indicated  that CSHB  413(STA) would  be                                                               
held over.                                                                                                                      

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