Cigarettes Sold in California Must Be Self-extinguishing

Starting January 1, 2007, only cigarettes certified and marked by the manufacturer as self-extinguishing may be sold in California. (California Cigarette Fire Safety and Firefighter Protection Act (Assembly Bill 178, Stats. 2005, Ch. 633). However, the law provides that distributors, wholesalers, and retailers may sell their inventory of non self-extinguishing cigarettes existing on or after January 1, 2007, if both the following conditions are met:

  • The distributors, wholesalers, or retailers can establish that California tax stamps or meter impressions were affixed to the cigarettes pursuant to Section 30163 of the Revenue and Taxation Code prior to January 31, 2007, and
  • The distributors, wholesalers, or retailers can establish that the inventory was purchased before January 1, 2007, in comparable quantity to the inventory purchased during the same period of 2005.

Distributors, wholesalers, retailers, or others who knowingly sell or offer to sell cigarettes not in compliance with the law could face civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation. Manufacturers are subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for violation of the Act.

The Act does not prohibit the sale of cigarettes that do not meet the fire safety standards if the cigarettes are or will be stamped or metered for sale in another state or are packaged for sale outside the United States.

Board inspectors can enter any place where cigarettes are sold, offered for sale, or stored, and upon showing Board-issued identification, they can inspect cigarette packs to check for a marking that indicates the Act's "safer burning" cigarette requirements are met. They can also review your purchase and sales invoices to see whether those invoices reconcile with your inventory. Inspectors can cite and seize cigarette packages that are not marked or do not meet testing and performance standards. Persons who do not allow an inspection could face a civil penalty up to $1,000.

Manufacturers must certify to the State Fire Marshal that the cigarettes meet testing and performance standard requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials. The Act was passed to reduce the number of fires caused by burning cigarettes, which are the leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S.

For more information, contact our Information Center, 800-400-7115.