Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 09:37 UK

EU plans 'fire-safe' cigarettes

The new cigarettes should not be more expensive, the commission says

All cigarettes sold across the European Union will have to be "fire-safe" by 2011, the European Commission has said.

The commission will require the tobacco industry to use extra layers of thickened paper wrapped around the cigarettes to slow the burning process.

"We think that by 2011 at the latest these cigarettes will be on the market," said a commission spokesman.

In 2005-2007 there were 11,000 fires annually across the EU caused by cigarettes, with 520 deaths.

Discarded cigarettes are also a major cause of forest fires.

The 27 EU member states gave the go-ahead last November for self-extinguishing cigarettes and the European Committee for Standardisation has started preparing the technical specifications for the safer cigarettes.

Such cigarettes, which go out in a minute if they are not puffed, are already on sale in Canada and parts of the US.

Commission spokesman Ton van Lierop was quoted as saying the safer cigarettes should not be any more expensive than those currently on sale.

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