Release date: February 15, 1995
Release number: 95-083

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously today to issue final regulations implementing the toy labeling and choking reporting requirements of the Child Safety Protection Act of 1994.

Provisions in the Child Safety Protection Act as implemented by CPSC require labels on packages of balls, balloons, marbles, and other toys and games intended for children at least three years of age, warning against choking hazards. The provision also bans balls smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter for children under three years of age.

In passing the Child Safety Protection Act, Congress reported that parents often allowed children under three years to play with toys that were intended for older children erroneously believing that age recommendations on the toys pertained to a child's level of development rather than serving as a warning relating to choking hazards.

The act also requires manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of small balls, latex balloons, marbles, or toys and games containing these items or other small parts to report to CPSC incidents of children choking. Companies that receive information about children choking and as a result dying, suffering serious injury, ceasing breathing for any length of time, or being treated by a medical professional must report this information to CPSC.

Chairman Ann Brown said, "The Child Safety Protection Act and the toy labeling regulation approved by CPSC assure uniform, consistent, prominent, and conspicuous warning labels to alert parents of a potential choking hazard. Reporting choking incidents could provide the information CPSC needs to save lives in the future."

Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall said, "I am pleased that we were able to resolve virtually all of the disagreements that arose concerning the staff's original proposal so that this congressionally mandated regulatory activity could be brought to completion."

Statement of Chairman Ann Brown
Toy Labeling and Choking
February 15, 1995

I am pleased that the Commission today voted to issue final regulations implementing the labeling and choking reporting requirements of the Child Safety Protection Act (CSPA) passed by Congress in June 1994. As Congress has stated, the CSPA assists the Commission in carrying out its responsibility of protecting children by requiring labels that warn against choking hazards from toys, games, balls, balloons and marbles, banning balls having a diameter of less than 1.75 inches, and requiring firms to report certain choking incidents to the Commission. I welcomed enactment of the CSPA.

The Commission currently enforces its "small parts" safety standard that prohibits toys and other articles intended for use by children under the age of three years from having small parts. The reason for this prohibition is that children under three are most likely to suffocate or choke to death on small parts.

Before enactment of the CSPA, there were no federal requirements for labels on toys or games, marbles, balls or balloons warning about the danger of children under three years choking on products containing small parts marketed to children over three years. Many parents thought existing age recommendations on toys pertain to the developmental level of the child for whom the toy was intended. They did not recognize the potential choking hazard from toys intended for older children.

The CSPA and the toy labeling regulation approved by the Commission assure uniform, consistent, prominent and conspicuous warning labels on certain toys and games, marbles, balloons, and balls intended for children at least 3 but under 6 years. These warning labels will provide parents and others who purchase marbles, balls, balloons, and toys and games containing small parts for children 3 years and older, with information, at the point of purchase, that informs them of the risk of choking or suffocation that these products present to children under the age of three years. Indeed, between January 1980, and July 1991, nearly 200 children choked to death on balloons, marbles, small balls and other children's products. About two-thirds of these deaths involved children under three years. This provision will at minimal cost assist parents in reducing that tragic toll.

The Commission also approved a regulation implementing the new congressionally mandated reporting provision for choking hazards. It provides that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and importers of marbles, small balls, latex balloons, or other small parts must report choking incidents to the Commission.

This provision will keep the Commission better informed of choking hazards presented by children's products. Working with industry proactively to eliminate unreasonable risks is always a goal of this agency. Reports of choking incidents could provide the information we need to save lives in the future.

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MARY SHEILA GALL
ON FINAL REGULATIONS UNDER THE CSPA
FEBRUARY 15, 1995

I have voted today to support promulgation of final regulations implementing the provisions of the Child Safety Protection Act. I am pleased that we were able to resolve virtually all of the disagreements that arose concerning the staff's original proposal so that this congressionally mandates regulatory activity could be brought to completion.

The regulations now strike an appropriate balance between the need to inform consumers of potential choking hazards, the desire of the Commission to gain incident data, and the realities of industry operations and practices. This outcome was in large part the result of comments from a diversity of interests being incorporated into the final proposal. However, it was only after agreement was reached to modify the reporting requirements and to promulgate them as interpretive rather than substantive rules that I was able to support the regulations.

While no proposal of this magnitude is completely satisfactory, today's Commission action meets our obligation to the Congress and to the American public. Having exerted substantial effort to reach this point, it is my hope that the action that we have taken today will ultimately enhance the safety of our children.

Provisions in the Child Safety Protection Act as implemented by CPSC require labels on packages of balls, balloons, marbles, and other toys and games intended for children at least three years of age, warning against choking hazards. The provision also bans balls smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter for children under three years of age.

In passing the Child Safety Protection Act, Congress reported that parents often allowed children under three years to play with toys that were intended for older children erroneously believing that age recommendations on the toys pertained to a child's level of development rather than serving as a warning relating to choking hazards.

The act also requires manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of small balls, latex balloons, marbles, or toys and games containing these items or other small parts to report to CPSC incidents of children choking. Companies that receive information about children choking and as a result dying, suffering serious injury, ceasing breathing for any length of time, or being treated by a medical professional must report this information to CPSC.

Chairman Ann Brown said, "The Child Safety Protection Act and the toy labeling regulation approved by CPSC assure uniform, consistent, prominent, and conspicuous warning labels to alert parents of a potential choking hazard. Reporting choking incidents could provide the information CPSC needs to save lives in the future."

Commissioner Mary Sheila Gall said, "I am pleased that we were able to resolve virtually all of the disagreements that arose concerning the staff's original proposal so that this congressionally mandated regulatory activity could be brought to completion."

Statement of Chairman Ann Brown
Toy Labeling and Choking
February 15, 1995

I am pleased that the Commission today voted to issue final regulations implementing the labeling and choking reporting requirements of the Child Safety Protection Act (CSPA) passed by Congress in June 1994. As Congress has stated, the CSPA assists the Commission in carrying out its responsibility of protecting children by requiring labels that warn against choking hazards from toys, games, balls, balloons and marbles, banning balls having a diameter of less than 1.75 inches, and requiring firms to report certain choking incidents to the Commission. I welcomed enactment of the CSPA.

The Commission currently enforces its "small parts" safety standard that prohibits toys and other articles intended for use by children under the age of three years from having small parts. The reason for this prohibition is that children under three are most likely to suffocate or choke to death on small parts.

Before enactment of the CSPA, there were no federal requirements for labels on toys or games, marbles, balls or balloons warning about the danger of children under three years choking on products containing small parts marketed to children over three years. Many parents thought existing age recommendations on toys pertain to the developmental level of the child for whom the toy was intended. They did not recognize the potential choking hazard from toys intended for older children.

The CSPA and the toy labeling regulation approved by the Commission assure uniform, consistent, prominent and conspicuous warning labels on certain toys and games, marbles, balloons, and balls intended for children at least 3 but under 6 years. These warning labels will provide parents and others who purchase marbles, balls, balloons, and toys and games containing small parts for children 3 years and older, with information, at the point of purchase, that informs them of the risk of choking or suffocation that these products present to children under the age of three years. Indeed, between January 1980, and July 1991, nearly 200 children choked to death on balloons, marbles, small balls and other children's products. About two-thirds of these deaths involved children under three years. This provision will at minimal cost assist parents in reducing that tragic toll.

The Commission also approved a regulation implementing the new congressionally mandated reporting provision for choking hazards. It provides that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and importers of marbles, small balls, latex balloons, or other small parts must report choking incidents to the Commission.

This provision will keep the Commission better informed of choking hazards presented by children's products. Working with industry proactively to eliminate unreasonable risks is always a goal of this agency. Reports of choking incidents could provide the information we need to save lives in the future.

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MARY SHEILA GALL
ON FINAL REGULATIONS UNDER THE CSPA
FEBRUARY 15, 1995

I have voted today to support promulgation of final regulations implementing the provisions of the Child Safety Protection Act. I am pleased that we were able to resolve virtually all of the disagreements that arose concerning the staff's original proposal so that this congressionally mandates regulatory activity could be brought to completion.

The regulations now strike an appropriate balance between the need to inform consumers of potential choking hazards, the desire of the Commission to gain incident data, and the realities of industry operations and practices. This outcome was in large part the result of comments from a diversity of interests being incorporated into the final proposal. However, it was only after agreement was reached to modify the reporting requirements and to promulgate them as interpretive rather than substantive rules that I was able to support the regulations.

While no proposal of this magnitude is completely satisfactory, today's Commission action meets our obligation to the Congress and to the American public. Having exerted substantial effort to reach this point, it is my hope that the action that we have taken today will ultimately enhance the safety of our children.

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