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On 29 November 2007, European Union (EU) member states overwhelmingly endorsed plans to draw up proposals for a standard to combat the leading cause of home fire fatalities each year. It will require tobacco companies to sell only self-extinguishing (reduced ignition potential (RIP)) cigarettes. The decision by member states in the General Product Safety Directive committee will start the process of bringing the EU in line with many other legislatures such as Canada and the 22 US states that have implemented the American Society for Testing and Materials standard. The European Commission, the EU's secretariat, will take a formal decision on the mandate for a standard early in 2008. Following the decision, Arlene McCarthy, a member of the European parliament, stressed that this victory “would not have been possible without the help of the campaigners and all the organisations that signed up to the EU RIP Alliance”.
In addition, because of concerns about how long it might take to develop a European-wide standard, the UK government announced that it was committed to seeing fire-safer cigarettes as the standard for all cigarettes, bought and sold, as quickly as possible. Although the standard setting process was likely to take several years, the government said it would shortly be consulting on the introduction of an early standard for the UK, based on the US model. It said it would consult with, among others, the Chief Fire Officers' Association, the fire brigade’s union, anti-smoking groups and tobacco manufacturers.
This is the result of 2 years campaigning by tobacco control activists in Europe, with significant help and advice from Greg Connolly, François Damphousse and many others working on this issue in the USA and Canada.
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