Senate Passes Bill to Stop Sales of Lighters That Look Like Toys

June 13, 2013

The New York State Senate today passed a bill to promote fire safety by prohibiting the sale and distribution of novelty lighters. The bill (S933A), sponsored by Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola), would remove novelty lighters - which have features like music, lights, and toy-like designs – from store shelves and prevent them from getting into the hands of children who may not understand the fire risk. 

“Fires set by children are the fastest-growing fire threat in New York State and across the country,” said Senator Martins.  “Annually, more than 300 people nationwide are killed, 30 percent of whom are children.  I am pleased that the Senate has passed this bill.  It will protect children and their families and ultimately save lives.”

Novelty lighters are designed to appeal to children since they often feature musical sounds, flashing lights, and toy-like designs such as cartoon characters, animals, cars, spaceships, cell phones, ice cream cones or sports equipment.  The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled thousands of novelty lighters since 1996 due to their danger to public safety.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers is child-set fires.  In addition, Association experts state that nationally, 13,000 house fires are caused by children each year costing almost $1 billion in property damage annually.  

James A. Burns, President of the Firemen’s Association of New York State (FASNY), said, “Presently, novelty lighters are easily accessible and sold in many convenience stores, gas stations, hardware stores and at other stores across New York State.  But despite their bright colors and stylish designs, novelty lighters are extremely dangerous items that too often land in kids' hands and, ultimately, lead to tragic, often fatal results.  We thank the Senate for passing this important bill today and we thank them for their support in preventing senseless tragedies.”

The legislation prohibits the retail sale and distribution of these lighters and requires a toll-free telephone number to be set up for receiving information from the public about possible violations by retail stores.  In addition, it gives law enforcement the authorization to seize any novelty lighters from those establishments.
The European union and at least fourteen states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina, have also banned the sale of novelty lighters.  

“It is important that New York State do the same to protect our families from these totally preventable fires,” concluded Senator Martins.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.