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Illinois bans novelty lighters

Illinois Legislature shows support for fire safety by passing bill banning novelty lighters
 Illinois will become the 13th state to ban sales of novelty lighters to prevent fire accidents

A woman in Ash Flat, AR, shot and killed herself with a Derringer pistol that she apparently thought was a cigarette lighter.

On May 28, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 5139, the Retail Sale and Distribution of Novelty Lighters Prohibition Act, which imposes fines of up to $500 on store owners who sell novelty cigarette lighters. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), Illinois will become the 13th state to ban or limit sales of novelty lighters, which resemble toys or other objects, once the bill is signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn (D).

Just the day before passage of Illinois House Bill 5139, a woman in Ash Flat, AR, shot and killed herself with a Derringer pistol that she apparently thought was a cigarette lighter. In 2006, a woman in South Carolina suffered a non-fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound from a pistol that she mistook for a lighter. There are also documented incidents in which children have mistaken novelty lighters for toys leading to fires, including a 2007 fire in Arkansas that took the lives of a two-year old and 15-month old.

On the federal level, legislation supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) was introduced in 2009 in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prohibiting the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of novelty lighters. The House bill (H.R. 2050) was introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) on April 22 while the Senate bill (S. 723) was introduced on March 26 by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

In 2007, NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg sent a letter to then-Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Nancy Nord requesting that the CPSC prohibit the importation, sale, and distribution of novelty lighters in the United States. USFA’s theme for Arson Awareness week last year was, “Toylike Lighters – Playing with Fire.” The NVFC has partnered with USFA to help bring attention to this important issue.

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