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Philip Morris Joins Push for Standard

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Associated Press

Reversing course, Philip Morris Inc. is pushing the government to require tobacco companies to produce cigarettes that quickly extinguish themselves if smokers don’t do the job.

The nation’s largest tobacco company has joined health and safety advocates urging Congress to adopt a national standard. The aim is to reduce the hundreds of U.S. deaths each year from smoking-related fires.

Philip Morris is the only U.S. company now making self-extinguishing cigarettes. But a key reason for the company’s new support of a federal requirement has to do with a New York law saying only self-extinguishing cigarettes may be sold in that state starting next year.

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Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Rhode Island are considering taking similar steps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Approval in those states could lead to a production and distribution nightmare, said Mark Berlind, associate general counsel for Philip Morris Management Corp.

Firefighter and fire safety groups for years have sought a government requirement that tobacco companies produce self-extinguishing cigarettes.

Tobacco companies, a powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, opposed the idea and Congress required only that the issue be studied.

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