CPSC's Standard For Child-Resistant Lighters To Take Effect

July 12, 1994
Release Number: 94105

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that disposable and novelty lighters manufactured or imported after today, July 12, must meet the agency's mandatory regulation for child resistance.

This safety standard, issued unanimously by the commission on July 12, 1993, will reduce the 150 deaths, 1,000 injuries, and more than 5,000 residential fires caused annually by children under the age of five playing with lighters.

Chairman Ann Brown said, "The commission worked very hard to implement a regulation that would help prevent young children, three, four and sometimes even two years of age, from starting fires with lighters. While this child- resistant feature is only a second line of defense, it will go a long way in reducing the 13 fires and two to three injuries a day, associated with young children playing with lighters."

The new standard, which excludes luxury lighters, affects 95 percent of the 600 million lighters purchased each year in the United States. Although retail stores will be able to legally sell lighters previously manufactured or imported, the commission expects the old lighters to be off the shelves in approximately six months.

In addition to the new safety regulation, CPSC worked in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importers from stockpiling illegal amounts of lighters without the child-resistant standard prior to today's date, when the commission would begin to enforce the new regulation. Presently, only one company manufactures disposable lighters in the United States; most lighters are made elsewhere and imported into this country. CPSC will continue its joint program with customs to seize or refuse entry of lighters that violate the new regulation in effect today.

The mandatory safety regulation adds a second step in what generally has been a single step process to ignite a lighter. The new step, which requires reasoning or cognitive skills in order to depress a small button or lift a simple tab before lighting the flame, helps prevent children from accidentally setting an object or themselves on fire while at play.