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Here soon ... cigs that go out by themselves

A NEW type of "safety" cigarette is set to save hundreds of lives lost in fire deaths in Ireland and the EU.

Cigarettes left unattended are one of the leading causes of fire deaths in Europe, according to the EU.

Evidence shows that the number of deaths can be cut by over 40pc with the introduction of 'Reduced Ignition Propensity' (RIP) cigarettes, it said.

The RIP cigarettes put themselves out if left unattended and are "less likely" to cause fires.

EU Health and Consumer Commissioner, John Dalli, said: "There's no such thing as a safe cigarette and obviously, the safest thing is not to smoke.

"But if people choose to smoke then the new standards which are about to fully enter into force will require tobacco companies to make only reduced ignition propensity cigarettes and potentially protect hundreds of citizens from this fire hazard."

Once the new safety standards are publicised in the EU Official Journal, all cigarettes sold in Europe will have to comply with the new measures.

"It will be the role of the national authorities to enforce this new fire safety measure," the EU said.

The safety measure is already in force in the US, Canada and Australia and, in the EU, in Finland, since April, 2010.

Cigarette-related fires cause more than 30,000 fires in the EU every year, with more than 1,000 deaths and 4,000 injuries.

"The experience from Finland, where the number of victims of cigarette-ignited fires has fallen by 43pc, suggests that nearly 500 lives could be saved in the EU every year," the EU said.

Cigarette paper makers have changed their paper production to insert two rings of thicker paper at two points along the cigarette.

"If the cigarette is left unattended, the burning tobacco will hit one of these rings and should then self-extinguish.