ALBANY, N.Y. -- The New York State Assembly passed a bill banning novelty lighters Tuesday, after consumer groups and fire officials first urged lawmakers to do so in December.
According to the publication ‘Fire Chief,' novelty lighters have been identified as the cause of fatal fires throughout the nation, including the September 2007 tragedy in Arkansas that took the lives of two young boys after they accidentally sparked a fire while playing with a lighter made to look like a toy motorcycle.
The bill (A.1011-A) would immediately ban the retail sale of novelty lighters that are shaped to look like miniature toys, such as automobiles, tractors or popular cartoon characters and are also frequently equipped with musical sounds and flashing lights.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the bill includes several provisions that would authorize law enforcement agencies to seize banned lighters, impose penalties on offenders and establish a toll-free telephone hotline number to accept reports of possible violations.
"These lighters may appear harmless because they look like toys, but in reality they are flame-producing devices that children like to play with," Silver said. "This is a combination that spells disaster, and it must be eliminated. Our bill would prohibit the sale of these lethal items. They are a public safety hazard and a threat to the lives of children."