Self-extinguishing cigarettes are tested on a bundle of laboratory filter papers
In the EU, Canada, most US states and Australia, laws require cigarettes to pass a laboratory test to see if they self-extinguish. Governments hope the laws will reduce the number of accidental fires.
Lower Ignition Propensity (LIP) cigarettes are made with a special paper which has bands or ‘speed bumps’ to slow the burn. Smokers may need to keep puffing to keep them alight, a bit like a cigar.
The test involves placing a lit cigarette on a bundle of 10 pieces of laboratory filter paper and recording whether it self-extinguishes before burning completely down. Ordinary cigarettes fail this test.
We are not aware of any publicly available evidence which demonstrates that LIP cigarettes have led to a significant reduction in the number of cigarette-related accidental fires.
Put simply, all cigarettes (including those that pass the new test) burn between 600-900°C and may cause fires if not carefully disposed of.
Further, the introduction of LIP cigarettes may have unintended consequences. For example, smokers may be more careless if they think the cigarettes are “fire-safe” and automatically extinguish. There is no such thing as a "fire-safe" cigarette.
We believe better public education on fire prevention, tougher regulation on furniture and clothing flammability plus improved fire detection and extinguisher regimes will help reduce all fires and their effects, not just those caused by cigarettes.
If governments want to introduce LIP cigarettes then, for practical reasons, we recommend following a common standard and consulting with tobacco manufacturers on timing.