Kare11.com – Seven years ago in November an apartment fire in Shoreview killed a man and left dozens of families homeless, The cause was ruled, careless smoking.
In the decade before and the years since, careless smoking as it is called has taken hundreds of lives in Minnesota.
“We thought it was a simple idea and a major life saving issue” said DFL-Roseville Senator John Marty, who in 1987 co-authored a bill which would have forced cigarette companies to make cigarettes burn themselves out.
He figured, if the cigarettes stopped burning on their own, there wouldn’t be as many fires and even fewer careless smoking deaths.
“It’s a crime that we’re not doing something to prevent it, the crime is that we haven’t passed this legislation,” Marty said back in 2001, in front of the Shoreview apartment complex.
For 20 years he’s attempted to get the law passed, all the while watching other states pass their own law, It’s been said, government acts slowly and it could be added that persistence pays.
“Every year we’d get a little bit closer and finally I think it was 20 some years of pushing we finally passed it,” Marty said.
Beginning Monday, all cigarettes sold in Minnesota will be fire safe and extinguish themselves if left alone.
“It’s the number one cause of fire deaths in Minnesota and 15 or 20 lives a year, you figure if its 15 on average, over 20 years, that’s 300 people who have died in the years that we have been fighting for this, many of whom would have been prevented,” Marty said.
The senator said the tobacco industry was the biggest roadblock in getting the bill passed, He figures the industry gave up on the issue once New York passed its law.
Minnesota will be the 17th state to have a fire-safe cigarette law, For another 19 states, including Wisconsin, it’s just a matter of time, they’ve already passed legislation.