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    N.Y. Fire-Safe Law on Hold

    State officials said July 1 deadline won't be met; standards need to be finalized.

    ALBANY, N.Y. -- The law to require fire-safe cigarettes will have to wait a little longer than legislators planned. Although the law is set to take effect July 1, the standards to implement it have not been finalized, New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels said.

    Daniels told an Assembly committee that it will take some months more to sift through the public comment on the proposed standards. As written, those standards released on the last day of 2002 would prevent 95 percent of the cigarettes currently sold in New York from hitting the shelves, according to the Associated Press.

    The goal of the safety law, passed in 2000, is to require cigarette manufacturers to sell cigarettes in New York that are less likely to ignite bed linens and upholstered furniture if left unattended. The legislation was supported by the state's association of firefighters, but was originally vetoed by Gov. George Pataki. The governor changed his position after forcing the Legislature to add an Internet sales ban and an anti-bootlegging measure to the cigarette law.

    The safety standards were supposed to go into effect July 1, but Daniels said his office has not finalized them, partly because they mark the first attempt by a state to investigate, research and test such new standards. Two hundred brands of cigarettes were tested, and Daniels said approximately 90 percent have "unacceptably high ignition strength." Most of the cigarettes now marketed in New York could not be sold under the standards, including all of the top selling brands, he said.

    The state, Daniels said, is still reviewing all the industry's comments. His spokesman said no date has been set for a final ruling on the standards. Once the final ruling is issued, manufacturers should have 180 days to comply.

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