DTI criticised for ‘lukewarm’ response on RIP cigarettes – has it been nobbled by tobacco industry

Thursday 16 November 2006

ASH news release:  For immediate release: Thursday 16th November 2006
Health campaigners have expressed concern and disappointment that the Department of Trade and Industry has failed to lend its full support to an EU proposal to set standards for RIP (“fire-safer”) cigarettes. [1]  The health groups are worried that the DTI has been unduly influenced by tobacco industry lobbying.

At a meeting yesterday of the EU committee responsible for overseeing the development of RIP cigarette standards, the UK representative gave only a ‘lukewarm’ response to the proposal for advancing standards.  Health and safety campaigners fear that the DTI has given in to tobacco industry pressure to drop its commitment in support of the RIP cigarettes, following a meeting between the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association and the DTI.  The RIP Coalition [2] has written to Alistair Darling,   Secretary of State for the DTI, expressing concern and requesting an explanation of the DTI’s position.

Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:

“Cigarette-started fires cause death, disfigurement and distress which can be prevented by simple design changes that can be easily implemented by setting standards. The DTI were supportive of setting such standards until the tobacco industry went to see them in October. And now suddenly they’ve changed position and they’re no longer giving the measures their active support. It looks to us like yet again the industry has got its foot in the door and is helping determine government policy.”

FBU General secretary Matt Wrack said:

“House fires started by a cigarette cause a third of all fire deaths. ‘Firesafer’ cigarettes would cut fire deaths in the home by a third and save thousands from horrific injuries.

“These cigarettes would be a massive leap forward in fire prevention and cutting deaths, injuries and property damage. We have made furniture safer in fires and we can do the same for cigarettes.

“We’ve been badly let down by the Department of Trade and Industry who seem to have buckled to pressure from the tobacco industry. They have a lot of explaining to do, including to other Departments which support this move.”

David Taylor, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health said:

“The DTI’s feeble response to the EU committee’s proposals to develop standards for self-extinguishing cigarettes is very worrying.  It is vitally important that the government presents a united front on this issue. I urge the DTI to reconsider its position as soon as possible.“

Notes and links:

[1]  For background information on the launch of the RIP Coalition and the campaign for reduced ignition propensity cigarettes see:  www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/rip-coalition-calls-for-new-cigarette-standard-to-cut-fires

RIP coalition website: www.firesafercigarettes.org.uk


Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available


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