Legislature(2007 - 2008)CAPITOL 17

05/02/2007 03:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 172 PUBLIC UTILITY EXEMPTION: REFUSE TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ SB 84 TESTING & PACKAGING OF CIGARETTES TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
SB 84 - TESTING & PACKAGING OF CIGARETTES                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
CS FOR SENATE  BILL NO. 84(JUD), "An Act relating  to the testing                                                               
and  packaging of  cigarettes to  be sold,  offered for  sale, or                                                               
possessed in this state; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:38:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DONNY  OLSON, Alaska State Legislature,  sponsor, relayed                                                               
that as  a doctor in  rural Alaska,  he has seen  the devastation                                                               
that fires can  cause, and offered an example wherein  one of the                                                               
victims, a  young boy, had  burns on  his feet and  suffered from                                                               
smoke  inhalation.    He  mentioned   that  his  staff  would  be                                                               
presenting SB 84.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:40:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DENISE  LICCIOLI,  Staff to  Senator  Donny  Olson, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  sponsor, explained  that SB  84 mandates  that only                                                               
self-extinguishing  cigarettes   can  be  sold  in   Alaska,  and                                                               
establishes the testing and  certification requirements to ensure                                                               
that  only  self-extinguishing  cigarettes are  sold  in  Alaska.                                                               
Although no  cigarette can ever  be called safe,  so-called self-                                                               
extinguishing  or "fire  safe" cigarettes  are "reduced  ignition                                                               
propensity  cigarettes."    Referring  to a  picture in  members'                                                               
packets of  a self-extinguishing cigarette,  she pointed  out the                                                               
embedded  bands, called  "speed-bumps,"  in  the cigarette  paper                                                               
that  will  cause  the  cigarette  to extinguish  if  it  is  not                                                               
actively being smoked.  These  cigarettes are designed to be less                                                               
likely than  conventional cigarettes  to ignite  soft furnishings                                                               
such as a couch or mattress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LICCIOLI relayed that SB 84  also provides for the marking of                                                               
cigarette  packaging,  in  an approved  and  easily  identifiable                                                               
manner, to indicate that they  are fire-safe.  Cigarettes are the                                                               
leading cause of home fire fatalities,  both in Alaska and in the                                                               
United  States, and  the  most common  material  that is  ignited                                                               
first  in  a home  fire  is  the  material found  in  mattresses,                                                               
bedding, upholstered  furniture, and floor coverings.   A typical                                                               
scenario  for  a  home  fire  is when  a  cigarette  is  lit  and                                                               
forgotten  or  dropped  by  the smoker,  and  the  cigarette  can                                                               
smolder for  hours before it  flares up into  a full blaze.   She                                                               
noted  that a  recent fire  in  Juneau, about  which a  newspaper                                                               
article  is  included in  members'  packets,  fit that  scenario.                                                               
One-fourth  of all  victims of  smoking-material fire  fatalities                                                               
are not  the smoker  whose cigarette started  the fire,  and over                                                               
one-third of those victims are children.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LICCIOLI  said that  the  risk  of  dying in  a  residential                                                               
structure fire caused  by smoking rises with age:   38 percent of                                                               
fatal smoking-material  fire victims  are age 65  or older.   The                                                               
most  common  technology  used   by  cigarette  manufactures  for                                                               
reduced  cigarette ignition  propensity (RCIP)  cigarettes is  to                                                               
make the paper thicker in places to  slow down the burn.  If such                                                               
a cigarette is left unattended, when  the burn reaches one of the                                                               
thicker places, or speed bumps,  the cigarette self extinguishes.                                                               
Self-extinguishing  cigarettes   meet  established   fire  safety                                                               
performance standards.   Legislation  similar to  SB 84  has been                                                               
enacted in  nine states:   New York, Massachusetts,  Vermont, New                                                               
Hampshire, California,  Illinois, Utah, Kentucky, and  Oregon.  A                                                               
fire safe  cigarette mandate  has also been  approved for  all of                                                               
Canada.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. LICCIOLI relayed  that SB 84 is supported by  the Alaska Fire                                                               
Chiefs   Association  (AFCA),   the  Alaska   State  Firefighters                                                               
Association (ASFA),  and the Department  of Public  Safety (DPS),                                                               
Division  of Fire  Prevention.   Senate Bill  84 is  an important                                                               
piece  of legislation  that will  save  lives as  well as  reduce                                                               
injuries and damage to property in Alaska, she concluded.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:44:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN  questioned   whether  self-extinguishing                                                               
cigarettes are  currently being produced by  the tobacco industry                                                               
and are therefore readily available.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. LICCIOLI said yes.  In  response to a question, she said that                                                               
there  is  a  transition  provision   in  the  bill  that  allows                                                               
wholesalers  and   retailers  to   continue  selling   their  old                                                               
cigarette stock for a period of  time after which they would need                                                               
to  restock  with  self-extinguishing  cigarettes  because  those                                                               
would  be the  only  kind of  cigarettes that  could  be sold  in                                                               
Alaska.    In  response  to another  question,  she  offered  her                                                               
understanding that the price of  cigarettes would remain the same                                                               
because the  cost of  producing self-extinguishing  cigarettes is                                                               
negligible.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  asked whether  the thicker bands  of paper                                                               
would be more hazardous to smoke.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON relayed  his understanding that they  would not be.                                                               
In  response to  comments and  a question,  he acknowledged  that                                                               
past attempts to make cigarettes  self extinguish by altering the                                                               
make up  of the  tobacco used  proved unsuccessful  because those                                                               
cigarettes were  unpalatable, and one such  attempt even resulted                                                               
in an increase in a particular lung disease.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked how the  provisions of the bill will be                                                               
enforced, and what the date for "mandatory sale" is.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LICCIOLI  replied  that enforcement  would  fall  under  the                                                               
purview of the  Department of Revenue (DOR),  which regulates the                                                               
sale of cigarettes in Alaska.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON mentioned  that the DOR's fiscal  note reflects the                                                               
enforcement provisions of the bill.   In response to comments and                                                               
a question,  he offered  his understanding  that there  isn't any                                                               
opposition to the bill, and that  even the tobacco industry is in                                                               
favor of it.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LeDOUX   questioned  why  the   tobacco  industry                                                               
doesn't  just produce  self-extinguishing cigarettes  without the                                                               
law having  to require  it, particularly  given that  some states                                                               
can sell nothing else.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LICCIOLI surmised  that like  other  behaviors addressed  by                                                               
various laws,  most people simply  won't do something  until it's                                                               
required.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  referred to  proposed AS  18.74.160, which                                                               
addresses  penalties for  violations,  and  asked whether  people                                                               
will still be able to  purchase non self-extinguishing cigarettes                                                               
on the Internet.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. LICCIOLI  suggested that  a representative  of the  DOR could                                                               
better address that question.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN questioned  whether a  resident of  Alaska                                                               
would  be considered  a criminal  if he/she  purchased cigarettes                                                               
for personal  use from a state  which does not require  that only                                                               
self-extinguishing cigarettes be sold.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHANNA  BALES,  Excise  Audit  Manager,  Anchorage  Office,  Tax                                                               
Division, Department of Revenue  (DOR), replied that according to                                                               
her interpretation  of SB 84,  an Alaskan citizen  purchasing non                                                               
self-extinguishing cigarettes  for personal use from  outside the                                                               
state would not  be subject to the [civil]  penalties provided in                                                               
the bill,  though under existing  law pertaining to  the taxation                                                               
of  cigarettes,  criminal  tax   penalties  would  apply  to  any                                                               
unlicensed individual  who brings  any kind of  [tobacco product]                                                               
into the state [for the purpose of reselling it].                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON characterized  SB 84 as a very  important bill that                                                               
will save lives and property.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  said he appreciates  that the  bill provides                                                               
for  a  transitional  period  and  doesn't  penalize  people  for                                                               
purchasing cigarettes for personal use from outside Alaska.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER, in  response to  Representative LeDoux's                                                               
question, suggested  that perhaps many smokers  don't like having                                                               
their cigarettes go out.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LeDOUX  remarked that the  title of bill  does not                                                               
seem  consistent with  the body  of the  bill; specifically,  the                                                               
title  indicates  that  the  bill is  in  part  about  cigarettes                                                               
"possessed in  this state",  and yet the  DOR has  indicated that                                                               
merely possessing non  self-extinguishing cigarettes for personal                                                               
use would not  subject a person to the penalties  provided in the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.   LICCIOLI  shared   her  understanding   that  the   phrase,                                                               
"possessed  in this  state" is  meant  to account  for non  self-                                                               
extinguishing cigarettes  that wholesalers and  retailers possess                                                               
during the transition period.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LeDOUX said  she  is still  concerned about  this                                                               
apparent  discrepancy and  is not  completely  certain that  that                                                               
language needs to be in the title.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR OLSON  shared his understanding  that to be  in violation                                                               
of the bill,  one must possess the cigarettes with  the intent to                                                               
sell.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  surmised that  a prohibition  against mere                                                               
possession couldn't be enforced.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:59:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RAYMOND  B. BIZAL,  Regional  Manager,  Western Region,  National                                                               
Fire  Protection Association  (NFPA),  relayed that  he would  be                                                               
speaking in  support of SB 84.   Referring to the  fact that nine                                                               
states have adopted similar legislation,  he calculated that this                                                               
means  that  over  one-fourth  of  the  U.S.  population  is  now                                                               
protected by  this type of law.   Four other states  have similar                                                               
legislation  waiting to  be  signed by  their  governors -  Iowa,                                                               
Maryland, Montana, and New Jersey.   However, because most of the                                                               
aforementioned laws  have only  now become  effective, statistics                                                               
for the  most part are not  yet available.  In  New York, though,                                                               
with  its  law  having  been  in  place  since  2004,  statistics                                                               
pertaining to  the first  six months  that that  law has  been in                                                               
place indicate that there has  been no reduction in cigarette tax                                                               
revenue,  but  that  there  has been  a  one-third  reduction  in                                                               
cigarette-related fire  fatalities and  an even  higher reduction                                                               
in the number of cigarette-related fires.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BIZAL  remarked that  Alaska  is  not alone  in  considering                                                               
legislation  pertaining to  self-extinguishing cigarettes:   this                                                               
year, 22  state legislators  introduced bills  similar to  SB 84.                                                               
Consideration of this issue is  widespread because it will make a                                                               
difference,   he  opined,   adding  that   nearly  1,000   people                                                               
needlessly die each year in the  U.S. because of fires started by                                                               
cigarettes;  such  fires  injure   many  more  people  and  cause                                                               
millions of dollars  in property damage.   Cigarettes that comply                                                               
with the fire  safety standard mandated by SB  84 actually reduce                                                               
the  likelihood of  fire.    Passing SB  84  will  save lives  in                                                               
Alaska,  reduce   injuries,  and   reduce  property   damage,  he                                                               
concluded.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:02:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVEN "RUSTY"  BELANGER, Assistant State Fire  Marshal, Division                                                               
of Fire  Prevention, Department of  Public Safety  (DPS), relayed                                                               
that the  division gives its  full support to  SB 84.   This bill                                                               
embodies the focus  of the division's mission  statement which is                                                               
to  prevent  the  loss  of   life  and  property  from  fire  and                                                               
explosion,  and recognizes  the  significant losses  of life  and                                                               
property due to  cigarettes.  Between 1996 and  2005, Alaska lost                                                               
upwards of  $8 million  in property  to fires  wherein cigarettes                                                               
were  the  ignition  source,  and,   as  of  today,  this  number                                                               
continues  to increase.    In the  same  time period,  cigarette-                                                               
related fires caused 31 percent of  the deaths due to fire - this                                                               
is the leading cause of fire fatalities in Alaska.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELANGER relayed that it is  the division's belief that SB 84                                                               
will  significantly  reduce  the  number of  fire  fatalities  in                                                               
Alaska related  to cigarettes because  manufactures will  have to                                                               
meet the  new requirements for  cigarettes that meet  fire safety                                                               
standards.   This  reduction will  occur at  minimal cost  to the                                                               
state.   This bill is  a tool that the  state can provide  to the                                                               
citizens  of  Alaska without  [negatively]  impacting  them.   He                                                               
concluded by saying:   "It is our  duty as a state  to help those                                                               
that live within our borders; we  urge your support on this bill,                                                               
and I thank you for your time."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:03:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WARREN  B. CUMMINGS,  President, Alaska  Fire Chiefs  Association                                                               
(AFCA), after noting that he is  also the fire chief for the City                                                               
of Fairbanks, relayed that the AFCA  is very supportive of SB 84.                                                               
The main  goal of  the [AFCA]  is to reduce  the number  of fire-                                                               
related deaths  in Alaska.   Cigarettes are the leading  cause of                                                               
home  fire  fatalities in  the  U.S.,  killing 700-900  people  -                                                               
smokers and non-smokers alike - per  year.  In Alaska, there have                                                               
been approximately  four such  deaths per  year; in  fact, during                                                               
the last  10 years, there  have been 37  [cigarette-related] fire                                                               
fatalities  .    In  2003,  [cigarette-related]  structure  fires                                                               
killed  760 people  and injured  1,520  others in  the U.S.,  and                                                               
there  were  5  such  fatalities   in  Alaska.    One-quarter  of                                                               
[cigarette-related] fire  fatalities were  not the  smokers whose                                                               
cigarettes started  the fires:   34  percent of  those fatalities                                                               
were  the  children  of  those   smokers,  24  percent  were  the                                                               
neighbors  and friends  of  those smokers,  14  percent were  the                                                               
spouses/partners  of  those  smokers,  and 13  percent  were  the                                                               
parents of those smokers.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. CUMMINGS  relayed that research  conducted in the  mid-80s by                                                               
the  NFPA predicted  that fire  safe  cigarettes would  eliminate                                                               
three out  of four cigarette-related  fire deaths.   If cigarette                                                               
manufactures  had begun  producing only  fire safe  cigarettes at                                                               
that time,  an estimated  15,000 lives would  have been  saved in                                                               
the   U.S.,  and,   during  the   last  10   years,  27   of  the                                                               
aforementioned  37   fatalities  would   still  be  alive.     In                                                               
conclusion  he said  that the  AFCA encourages  the committee  to                                                               
move SB 84 forward and support it on the House floor.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:06:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIE DARLIN, Coordinator, AARP  Capital City Task Force, relayed                                                               
that the AARP supports SB 84  and is looking at trying to prevent                                                               
the  deaths that  are  caused by  cigarette-related  fires.   She                                                               
remarked on the dangers that  firefighters are subject to because                                                               
of  cigarette-related fires,  and  noted that  one  of the  other                                                               
people  who  came to  testify  but  couldn't  because of  a  time                                                               
constraint had served  as a firefighter for many  years and would                                                               
have  been   able  to  give   a  detailed  description   of  what                                                               
firefighters  find  at  such  fires.    After  referring  to  the                                                               
aforementioned recent  fire in Juneau,  she opined that  if there                                                               
is something that can be done  to address this problem, it should                                                               
be done.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:07:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  moved  to  report CSSB  84(JUD)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.    There  being no  objection,  CSSB  84(JUD)  was                                                               
reported from the House Labor and Commerce Standing Committee.                                                                  

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