Data Watch

Novelty Lighters Around the Country: A Risk or a Right?

By Publication Manager

Dec 4, 2010 Back

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Over 70 million toy-like lighters are imported into the United States annually.2 On May 11, 2006, the European Consumer Protection Commission adopted a decision requiring Member States to ensure that, from March 11, 2007, cigarette lighters are child-resistant when placed on the EU market. The decision also prohibits placing lighters on the market resembling objects particularly attractive to children.3 The office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal predicts many of these lighters will likely be redirected for sale to the U.S.4

In March of 2008, Maine became the first state to ban novelty lighters after a 6 year old saw a lighter in a store shaped like a baseball bat, flicked the switch and was burned.5

The Tennessee Public Fire Educator’s Association published numerous incidents on their website that involve kids and novelty lighters nation-wide: In North Carolina, a six-year-old boy sustained second-degree burns after playing with a lighter that looked like a toy cell phone. In Maryland, playground equipment was set on fire by three five-year-old girls using a gun-shaped lighter. In Oregon, one child died and another was permanently brain damaged after a six-year-old, playing with a lighter that looked like a toy dolphin, started a fire. In another incident, a mother was severely burned after her child, playing with a lighter resembling a Christmas tree, ignited the mother’s bed. In Arkansas, two young boys died after their apartment caught fire. News reports said the children had been playing with a motorcycle-shaped lighter in which the flame came out of the exhaust pipe.6

Novelty lighters were banned from sale and manufacture in South Australia on 6th of January 2010.7

1 USFA. “Novelty and Toylike Lighters”. Sept. 2010. http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_citizens/home_fire_prev/noveltylighters/.
2 Office of Oregon State Fire Marshall. 15 Jan. 2009 http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/docs/Codes/colorfact.pdf.
3 Europa. “EU bans sale of non-child resistant and novelty lighters”. 3 Nov. 2008 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/425&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN.
4 Office of Oregon State Fire Marshall. 15 Jan. 2009 http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/docs/Codes/colorfact.pdf.
5 AP. 24 March 2008. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23784988/.
6 Tennessee Public Fire Educator’s Association. http://www.tnpubed.org/no_novelty.html.
7 Angela Harper. AAP.“Novelty Lighters Banned in South Australia”. 6 Jan. 2010 http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/novelty-lighters-banned-in-south-australia/story-e6frfku0-1225816642363.

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