Fire Service Program
The Tobacco Institute's Fire Service Program was a project implemented to reduce national efforts to enact policies mandating reduced-ignition propensity cigarettes.
A 154-page Tobacco Institute budget from 1988 describes strategies to undermine "fire safe" cigarette legislation. In the budget, The Institute acknowledges that "the latest data indicate that the trend [in the number of fire deaths related to careless smoking] has leveled off and even increased," and that "careless smoking is still regarded by many as an important cause of accidental fires." Fearing the that the national increase in cigarette-caused fire deaths would raise calls for fire-safe cigarette legislation, the Tobacco Institute started a program wherein the they gave away a grants to hundreds of local fire stations across the country, nominally to help promote "fire education." The real purpose of the program was to decrease fire service hostility towards the tobacco industry and eliminate calls from fire service organizations for fire-safe cigarettes.
Individual tobacco companies also carried out their own efforts to fight fire-safe cigarette laws. A 1997 R.J. Reynolds report shows how RJR strategized to fight legislated fire-safe cigarette design. It shows RJR was aware that cigarettes were the leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S., and that since they were unable to fight the statistics, they planned to divert the discussion away from tobacco industry responsibility for these deaths:
After nearly two decades...Fire statistics continue to show careless smoking as the leading cause of fire deaths nationally...The industry cannot credibly attack the statistics but has the means to encourage a broad debate by the fire service itself...We recommend a dramatic shift of resources in this direction.
The document also shows RJR had a strategy to "block official acceptance" of a test process being developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to measure the ignition propensity of cigarettes, as a step to regulating them.
- Public Affairs Division Proposed 1988 Operation Plans and Budget, Tobacco Institute, 1988. 154pp. Bates No. TIDN0017987/8140
- Careless Smoking. Discussion of 1997 (19970000) Political Factors and Strategy R.J. Reynolds, 1997. 5 pp. Bates No.522573948/3952
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