The State of New York has officially banned the sale of novelty lighters in stores across the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed the bill into law that will prohibit stores from selling lighters shaped like guns, animals or any other object aside from the standard lighter form.
The sponsor of the bill was assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who spoke passionately about the bill’s subtle yet significant importance. “These are the types of bills that don’t make headlines, but they are the types of things that can prevent a terrible tragedy from happening. Little kids are drawn to these novelty lighters not because they are lighters, but because they look like guns, or cars or even fishing poles ... there’s no reason for them to exist,” Dinowitz told NBC New York.
Although New York (and New York City, in particular) has made headlines nationally for its strange proposed bans — most notably NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large, sugary drinks — the state is actually not a pioneer in the ban on novelty lighters. Fourteen states throughout the U.S., as well as the European Union, already ban the objects. Several counties within other U.S. states also ban the lighters.
The law is scheduled to go into effect after 90 days. Those that manufacture the items in New York or import them into the state face fines of $10,000 if they do not discontinue their service. Retailers can be charged up to $500/lighter in civil penalties after the law takes effect. Websites such as Amazon.com, however, continue to carry a large amount of the lighters.
Lighters may be commonly associated with smoking cigarettes, an activity that has been the cause of public health concern as well as governmental action (banning smoking indoors, for instance), but this new legislation appears to be aimed more at fire safety. The legislation process began when the “New York Public Interest Research Group and several firefighter organizations called for the bill last December in an annual event that highlights dangerous products and toys,” NBC New York reports.
The law is an attempt to curb the hazards and defects commonly associated with the lighters.