By Elliott Francis
Starting next month, cigarettes sold in Virginia must comply with standards aimed at making them less likely to start fires.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2008 requiring cigarettes sold in the state to meet standards that make them more likely to self-extinguish. The key change is the type of paper used, which has several rows of less-porous bands which slow a cigarette's burn rate and makes it more likely to extinguish when discarded or left unattended.
Preliminary data collected by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs shows that in 2009, cigarettes and other smoking materials were identified as the cause of 150 structure fires, and four fatalities.