A safer cigarette

January 13, 2000

This is an edited excerpt of a San Francisco Chronicle editorial, which was published yesterday.

IT may be way too late to save the public image of the tobacco industry, but the Phillip Morris Co.'s development of a safer cigarette could save lives.

The new technology, to be tested initially in the Merit brand, is designed to slow down the combustion rate and reduce the heat level to reduce the chances that an unattended cigarette will cause a fire.

Tobacco industry critics say the company's own documents show that it had developed a less-flammable cigarette in the 1980s. Meanwhile, cigarettes continued to be the source of about 25 percent of residential fires.

The problem with all this is that the smokers who are concerned enough about starting an accidental fire to switch to a safer brand are probably the least likely to smoke in bed.

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