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Australia wants safer cigarettes

THE government wants to fast-track new rules that make cigarettes less likely to ignite fires, after Australia's deadliest wildfires earlier this month killed at least 208 people, an official said on Friday.

The government move comes as scientists warn that climate change will make wildfires more common in Australia due to hotter summers and longer droughts.

The new law, passed by parliament in September before the deadly wave of fires on February 7, requires changes to the paper and chemical additives used in cigarettes so that they will stop burning once discarded.

But the rules are not due to take effect until March next year, and Consumer Affairs Minister Chris Brown wants to speed up the implementation, his spokesman said.

Australia's largest cigarette manufacturer, British American Tobacco Australia Ltd, said companies need time to change production and the start date was a compromise set by the government in consultation with the tobacco industry.

Victoria estimates that 7 percent of wildfires, which raze vast tracts of the state every summer, are caused by cigarettes or matches.


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