• 22.12.2012 Berryville Bust Part Of $33M Cigarettes Sting

    A Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg has indicted dozens of individuals for conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes, money laundering and a variety of related charges.The defendants were charged by the grand jury in four separate indictments returned under seal on February 17, 2011, August 3, 2011 and October 6, 2011. Those indictments were unsealed earlier this week following the arrest and initial court appearances by the defendants.The charges are the result of a three-year investigation by the United...

  • 20.11.2012 Covenant Kicks The Habit

    Amy Olson-Yarbrough was tired of being a prisoner to tobacco."I decided I didn't want cigarettes to control my life any more," Olson-Yarbrough said. "When you're a smoker you have to figure out where you're going to be able to smoke cigarettes next, how long until my next cigarette, how am I going to hide it from my kids . . ."So, on Nov. 23, 2010, Olson-Yarbrough - a pack-a-day smoker who had been at it for close to two decades - quit smoking cigarettes.Now, Olson-Yarbrough can't stand anything about it."The smell of buy cigarettes really nauseates me," she said. "I'll never go back to...

  • 18.10.2012 No-smoking Policy For New Hires

    Should smokers who want to work for the county be forced to sign a pledge they will quit smoking cigarettes — and then be required to follow through before starting work?Should they pay more for their health-care coverage if they don’t keep the pledge, or decline to sign it?Is it discrimination for government not to consider smokers to fill open positions?The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors decided to have the county’s Health and Safety Committee study the issue, which was brought up by Sheriff Dave White at the Board’s regular meeting Monday.White told the Board he’s heard...

  • 10.09.2012 Court Upholds Big Award In Smoker's Case

    A state appeals court upheld $13.8 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris on Wednesday for the addiction and death of a 45-year cigarette smoker, saying the company's decades of concealment and lies about the dangers of its products were "extremely reprehensible."In a 2-1 ruling, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed a verdict by a Los Angeles County jury in the case of Betty Bullock of Newport Beach (Orange County). Bullock had started smoking cigarettes Marlboros in 1956, at age 17, and quit in 2001 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, two years...

  • 09.09.2012 California Court Approves 16:1 Punitive Damage Award

    Corporate America has pushed hard for years to hold the line on punitive damages, with some successThe Supreme Court has ruled that excessively high punitive damage awards, designed to punish defendants for particularly egregious behavior, can violate the Due Process clause. And the California Supreme Court had held that punitive damages typically should not be more than nine to ten times the size of damages awarded to compensate injured parties.But in a smoking cigarettes case against Philip Morris, a California appellate court yesterday signed off on punitive damages that were 16 times...

Fire Officials Warn Of Cigarette-caused Fires

Fireworks, make way for cigarettes.

The seasonal fire concern is changing with the calendar.

Once summer kicks in, firefighters start seeing more fires, particularly outdoors, started by stubborn cigarette butts, said Leslie Hynes, a spokeswoman for Snohomish County Fire District 1.

Now that it's getting drier, it's more important to make sure cigarette butts are properly extinguished, she said.

The big issue this time of year is when people put out cigarettes store in potted plants or planter boxes on their decks, Hynes said.

"That provides the perfect insulation for the cigarette to smolder and then catch fire and then ignite the deck and the siding," Hynes said.

In the last decade, Everett firefighters had two fatal fires that were cigarette-related, Fire Marshal Rick Robinson said. Both also involved alcohol or other intoxicants.

Smoking-related blazes are one of the most fatal kinds of house fires, Marysville Fire Marshal Tom Maloney said. They kill roughly 1,000 people every year -- smokers and nonsmokers.

Marysville firefighters see cigarette butts start fires in planter boxes every year, he said.

People think it's just dirt in the boxes, but peat moss and other materials can ignite or insulate a flame, Hynes said. Cigarette butts can smolder for hours before catching fire.

Once the deck or siding catches, the fire usually spreads up the side of the house. It might break a window to get in, but the flames usually climb into the eaves and then the attic.

Another concern is people who are smoking cigarettes while drunk, drugged or drowsy, Hynes said. They're at risk because they might not notice if a fire breaks out until it's too late.

The easiest safety step to avoid cigarette fires is to use a sturdy ashtray or a can filled with sand, she said. When emptying the ashtray, soak the butts in water. Crews see trash can fires every year from discarded ashtray debris. One such fire proved fatal in Edmonds this past year.