These requirements are intended to ensure that these lighters are resistant to successful operation by children younger than 5 years of age.
In general, subject lighters must utilize a child-resistant mechanism or system that:
- prevents at least 85% of the children from “activating” the lighter (see test protocol at 16 CFR § 1210.4 for lighters 16 CFR § 1212.4 for multi-purpose lighters)
- automatically resets for each subsequent use
- does not impair the safe operation of the lighter when the lighter is used in a normal and convenient manner
- operates for the reasonably expected life of the lighter
- cannot be easily overridden or undone
In addition to the requirements noted above, multi-purpose lighters that allow for a hands-free operation must:
- require operation of an additional feature (e.g., lock or switch)
- use a manual mechanism for turning off the flame
- automatically reset when, or before, the user lets go of the lighter when the hands-free function is not used OR when turning off the flame after the hands-free feature is used
You can find more information on our lighters business guidance page.
The requirements for cigarette lighters are codified at 16 CFR part 1210. The requirements for multi-purpose lighters are codified at 16 CFR part 1212.
A cigarette lighter, defined at 16 CFR § 1210.2(c), is a flame-producing product that consumers commonly use to light cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, although it may be used to light other materials. The term does not include matches or any other lighting device intended primarily to light materials other than smoking materials. When used in reference to the requirements at 16 CFR part 1210, the term only includes “disposable lighters” and “novelty lighters”.
A disposable lighter, defined at 16 CFR § 1210.2(b), is a lighter that either:
- cannot be refilled with fuel; or
- uses butane, isobutane, propane, other liquefied hydrocarbon, or a mixture of the referenced fuels under pressure AND has a Customs Value or price from the manufacturing factory under $2.75
Novelty lighters, defined at 16 CFR § 1210.2(d), include lighters that depict or resemble articles commonly recognized as appealing to or intended for use by children under 5 years of age, such as cartoon characters, toys, guns, watches, musical instruments, vehicles, toy animals, food or beverages. They also include lighters with features entertaining to children, such as visual effects like flashing lights or sound effects like musical notes. A novelty lighter may operate on any fuel, including butane or liquid fuel.
Novelty lighters are subject to the requirements for child-resistance regardless of their Customs Value or factory price.
A multi-purpose lighter, defined at 16 CFR § 1212.2(a), is a lighter that operates on fuel, incorporates an ignition mechanism, and is used by consumers to ignite items (e.g., candles, fuel for fireplaces, charcoal or gas-fired grills, camp fires, camp stoves, lanterns, fuel-fired appliances or devices, or pilot lights) or for uses such as soldering or brazing. Multi-purpose lighters may include a feature for hands-free operation.
The definition excludes:
- Devices intended primarily for igniting cigarettes, cigars, and pipes whether or not such devices are already subject to 16 CFR part 1210
- Devices containing more than 10 oz. of fuel
A surrogate lighter, defined at 16 CFR § 1210.2(f) and 16 CFR § 1212.2(c), is a substitute for an actual working lighter. Surrogate lighters are used for testing so that the children participating in the test are not put at risk by operating real lighters. A surrogate lighter approximates the appearance, size, weight, and shape of an actual lighter intended for use by consumers. It does not have fuel and must also be identical to the actual lighter in all characteristics that might affect child resistance, including the method of operation and the force(s) needed to operate the lighter. When operated, a surrogate produces a sound or visual signal to let the tester know that it has been operated in a manner that would have caused the actual lighter to light.
The test protocol for lighters can be found at 16 CFR § 1210.4, and the test protocol for multi-purpose lighters can be found at 16 CFR § 1212.4.
The qualification test uses at least one, but no more than two, test panels of 100 children between the ages of 42 and 51 months to test surrogate lighters. Each panel is divided into 3 groups – 30 children 42 through 44 months old, 40 children 45 through 48 months old, and 30 children 49 through 51 months old. Approximately ⅔ of the children in each group must be boys. The test procedure allows a small variation in the size of each group and in the number of boys and girls in each group. Each child in the test panel must live within the United States, and have no illness, injury, or disability that would interfere with the child’s ability to operate the test lighters. No child may participate in more than one test panel or test more than one model of cigarette lighter. Before any child participates in a test, a parent or legal guardian must agree in writing to let the child participate.
Two children at a time participate in the test in a well-lit room that is familiar to them and is free from distractions. A tester first operates a surrogate lighter in the presence of the children without letting them see what he or she is doing, so that they will know what sound or visual signal the surrogate makes when it is operated successfully. The tester then gives each child a surrogate lighter and asks the children to try to make the same sound or signal. Each child has five minutes to try to do this.
If a child succeeds in making the sound or signal, he or she is not tested further, and that child’s test is counted as a failure of the lighter that the surrogate represents. The tester shows any child who does not succeed in the first five minutes how to make the surrogate emit the sound or signal. The child then has five more minutes to try to operate the surrogate successfully. Any instance in which a child succeeds in operating it in the second five minutes is also counted as a lighter failure.
For a lighter to pass, at least 85% of the children tested must be unable to operate the surrogate lighter. For the first 100-child test panel, if 10 or fewer children operate the surrogate successfully, the lighter that the surrogate represents passes. If 19 or more children succeed, the lighter fails. In either case, no further testing is necessary. If 11 through 18 children in the first panel operate the surrogate lighter successfully, the second 100- child panel is tested. In that case, the lighter fails if 31 or more of the total 200 children tested operate the surrogate successfully.
Firms that need to test a lighter must use a qualified lighter-testing laboratory located in the US, as both standards state that “the children for the test panel shall live within the United States”, see 16 CFR 1210.4(a)(3) and 16 CFR 1212.4(a)(3). The CPSC does not identify or recommend particular laboratories for this purpose.
Yes. After conducting qualification tests on surrogate lighters, manufacturers and importers must certify that the lighters they sell comply with the standard. Certification assures that the child-resistant mechanisms on lighters produced for sale perform as effectively as the mechanisms on the tested surrogates. A certificate must be based on a reasonable testing program of lighters sampled during production or on a test of each lighter produced for sale. Every manufacturer and importer of lighters subject to the standard must also label each lighter, must keep records of child testing in English on paper, microfiche, or similar media, and must give those records within 48 hours to any designated officer or employee of the Commission who asks for them within 48 hours. Please refer to the standard for the specific requirements for labeling and record keeping.
In addition, at least 30 days before any manufacturer or importer imports into or distributes in the United States any model of lighter subject to the standard, the manufacturer or importer must provide a report to CPSC’s Office of Compliance that includes:
- The name, address, and principal place of business of the manufacturer or importer,
- A detailed description of the lighter model to be imported or distributed and of the child-resistant feature(s) used on that model,
- A description of the testing done to establish that the lighter is child resistant, including a description of the surrogate lighter tested, the specifications for the surrogate lighter, a summary of the results of all such tests, the dates the tests were performed, the location(s) of such tests, and the identity of the organization that conducted the tests,
- An identification of the place or places that the lighters were or will be manufactured,
- The location(s) where the records of testing of the lighter are kept, and
- A physical prototype or production sample of the lighter model must be submitted with the report.
The report along with physical samples can be sent to:
Division of Regulatory Enforcement
Office of Compliance and Field Operations
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway, Suite 610
Bethesda, MD 20814
Information can be submitted electronically to RegulatoryEnforcement@cpsc.gov.
Although not mandatory requirements enforced by the CPSC, ASTM F400 Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Lighters and ASTM F2201 Standard Consumer Safety Specification For Utility Lighters address issues as flame generation, flame control, flame-height adjustment, spitting or sputtering and flaring, flame extinguishing, and structural integrity. The ASTM F400 standard also provides that each lighter be accompanied by instructions or warnings, or both, explaining the proper way to use the lighter.
Additionally, ISO Standard 9994:2018, Lighters — Safety specifications, “specifies requirements for lighters to ensure a reasonable degree of safety for normal use or reasonably foreseeable misuse of such lighters by users.”
Compliance with ASTM F400, ASTM F2201, ISO 9994, or other voluntary industry standards related to lighters is not a substitute for mandatory compliance for lighters in-scope of 16 CFR part 1210 or 16 CFR part 1212.