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ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state is warning there could be a "period of time" next year when no cigarettes are available for sale in New York, The New York Post reported.
The New York Office of Fire Prevention and Control is expected to release regulations soon that will require that by next July, only self-extinguishing cigarettes can be sold in New York. Buried in a progress report to the state Legislature obtained by The Post, the fire prevention office disclosed that tobacco companies fear they won't be able to meet that mandate.
According to the July 1 memo, the companies say they need sufficient time to "conform a multitude of products to the standard and have those products distributed through the distribution chain to the retail shelves." The report warns: "There could be a period of time after the effective date of the regulation where no cigarettes are sold in New York."
Hoping to reduce the number of cigarette-related fires, the state Legislature passed a law in 2000 that will make New York the first state to require that every cigarette sold be self-extinguishing. Unlike regular cigarettes, which once lit keep burning, the self-extinguishing kind are designed to go out or burn less hot when not being smoked, the report said.
The chief sponsors of the 2000 legislation, Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Queens) and Assemblyman Alexander Grannis (D-Manhattan), don't see a problem. "Can you imagine a company leaving this market empty?" Grannis said. "They'll get it done because if they don't meet the deadline, they're not going to be selling cigarettes here. They have enough time. They've had more than enough warning this is coming."
Brendan McCormack, spokesman for Philip Morris Cos. Inc., manufacturer of the Marlboro brand, told The Post "anyway you look at it, it's going to be a challenge to comply in that time frame."