Release date: March 18, 1992
Release number: 92-067

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today decided not to propose rules to require ""choking hazard"" labels for marbles, balloons, small balls, and toys containing small parts intended for children over three years of age. The Commissioners generally concluded that labels would not have prevented most of the chokings that occurred. Statements by CPSC Chairman Jacqueline Jones-Smith, Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall, and Commissioner Carol Dawson are attached.

The specific labeling decisions were:

-Balloons: (vote 2-1 against) Chairman Jones-Smith voted to propose a labeling rule for balloon packages because she considered the choking hazard with balloons to be a hidden hazard and because the number of deaths with balloons was more than the number of deaths for any of the other products considered for labeling. Commissioners Gall and Dawson voted not to propose rules to require labeling of balloons because many balloons would not be covered by such a label requirement and most balloon packages already contain some label. However, the Commission affirmatively directed the staff to work with the industry to modify its current voluntary labeling standard.

-Marbles: (vote 3-0 against) The Commissioners voted unanimously not to propose a rule to require labeling of packages of marbles. The Commission concluded that most consumers are aware of the choking hazard posed by marbles and that the low frequency of death -- less than one annually -- further negates the need for rulemaking.

-Small Balls: (vote 3-0 against) The Commission voted unanimously not to propose a rule to establish a minimum diameter larger than 1.25 inches for accessible balls in toys intended for children younger than three years of age. Less than one percent of all toy shipments intended for children under three years of age contain accessible small balls. Thus, the likelihood of exposure would be low, negating the need for a minimum size requirement for balls intended for this age group. The Commission also voted not to propose a rule to require labeling of toys and games which are intended for children older than three years of age and which contain accessible small balls. The risk for children under three years of age is small and the labeling would not be effective in reducing the number of deaths and injuries, the Commissioners concluded.

-Toys Intended for Children Three to Five Years of Age: (vote 3-0 against) The Commission also voted not to propose a rule to require labeling of toys which contain small parts and which are intended for children three to five years of age. Most of the choking incidents with these products involved pieces of broken games or toys or objects not covered by the labeling proposal. The evidence presented by staff failed to show that a mandatory label would be effective in reducing such incidents.

Chairman Jones-Smith said, "Labels are a reasonable remedy for hidden hazards, but labeling the obvious is not sensible government."

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