- The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
- Sector-specific legislation
- Other related legislation (food imitating products)
Decision on lighters 2006/502/EC
On 11 May 2006, by Decision 2006/502/EC, the Commission required the Member States to take measures to ensure that only lighters which are child-resistant are placed on the market and to prohibit the placing on the market of novelty lighters.
Why this Decision on lighters?
Misuse of cigarette lighters in play by young children causes a significant number of serious fire accidents. It is estimated that between 1500 and 1900 injuries and 34 to 40 fatalities per year in the EU are due to fire-related accidents caused by children playing with lighters. Child-resistance mechanisms exist to prevent such accidents, and their use has been mandatory in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for some 10 years. The introduction of child-resistance requirements in the US brought about a 60% reduction in the number of such accidents.
Cigarette lighters are consumer products which are inherently hazardous, since they produce a flame or heat, and contain a fuel. They pose a serious risk when misused by children. This is particularly relevant in the case of disposable lighters, which are sold in huge numbers, often in multi-packs, and used as low-value, throw-away products. Children may play with them and cause serious fires, injuries and deaths.
What is covered?
The child-resistance requirement of the Decision applies to roughly 98% of all lighters sold in the EU each year, including all disposable, plastic lighters and low-cost metal lighters. Certain lighters are not covered by the child-resistance requirement, but are subject to the general safety requirements of Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety, backed up by a specific standard on lighter safety (EN ISO 9994). For lighters to be excluded from the child-resistance requirements they have to fulfil a number of technical criteria laid down in the Decision (see article 1.1).
In addition, the Decision bans the placing on the market of lighters which resemble objects that are especially appealing to children (for example toys, mobile phones, food, cars, etc.) and therefore present a high risk of misuse (so-called 'novelty lighters')
When is a lighter child-resistant?
A European standard (EN 13869:2002) establishes child-resistance specifications for lighters. Lighters that comply with the relevant specifications of this European standard are presumed to conform to the Decision. Conformity is also presumed for those lighters that conform to the child-resistance requirements of non-EU countries if such requirements are equivalent to those established by the Decision (such as those in the US).
The Commission considers it necessary to review and revise where necessary EN 13869:2002 taking into account the developments over the years and the temporary nature of Decision 2006/502/EC. Such a revised standard should subsequently be referenced under the General Product Safety Directive so that presumption of conformity with the general safety requirement can be given to all lighters complying with the standard.
Decision 2008/357/EC of 23 April 2008 thus establishes the requirements on the basis of which the Commission may request the relevant standardisation bodies to amend the relevant standard for lighters.
How is the Decision going to work?
At the request of the Member States' competent authorities, manufacturers and importers will have to submit all relevant documents, including test reports on child-resistance. The test reports have to be issued by testing bodies that are accredited or recognised by the Member States’ competent authorities.
Test reports may also be issued by a testing body whose reports are accepted by countries where child-resistance requirements equivalent to those in the Decision are in force (such as the US).
Distributors will be required to cooperate with the competent authorities and provide them upon request with the necessary documentation to trace the origin of the lighters they place on the market.
When will the Decision come into force?
Commission Decision 2006/502/EC was notified to Member States on 11 May 2006. Member States must ensure as of ten months from the date of notification of the Decision, that is to say from 11 March 2007 onwards, that all cigarette lighters placed on the market are child-resistant (except for those lighters excluded from the scope based on the technical criteria), and that novelty lighters are no longer placed on the EU market
As the Decision was adopted under article 13 of Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety, it could only be valid for one year. It was therefore amended for the first time by Decision 2007/231/EC, which extended its validity until 11 May 2008 and added the requirement that non-child resistant lighters and novelty lighters can no longer be sold to consumers from 11 March 2008 onwards.
On 27 January 2012, Decision 2012/53/EU amended the Decision 2006/502/EC for the sixth time by extending its validity for a further year, until 11 May 2013.
After the adoption of the Decision in May 2006, the Commission started working on Guidelines to facilitate the practical implementation of the Decision. These Guidelines were elaborated in close cooperation with the EU Member States and other key stakeholders, including consumer organisations, manufacturers and importers. Given the fact that around one third of all lighters on the EU market are produced in China, Chinese authorities and industry representatives were also involved in this process.
With reference to Annex III of the Guidelines, information about testing bodies accredited for executing child-resistant tests on lighters can be found in the attached document .
Please note that these Guidelines provide guidance only and cannot be constituted as a legal interpretation of the Decision, as this is the sole competence of the European Court of Justice.
These Guidelines are complemented by a number of useful documents, including:
- CR exclusion criteria – Example reporting template
- CR requirements Example reporting template
- ISO9994 – Example summary report full testing
- ISO9994 – Full testing requirements
- ISO9994 – Key testing requirements
- ISO9994 – List of equipment
Please note that these additional documents have been elaborated by different stakeholders and do not necessarily represent the Commission's views or carry its formal endorsement.
To ensure an effective implementation and enforcement of the Decision, an appropriate market surveillance strategy needs to be put in place. The development of such a strategy and the organisation of the practical aspects of the surveillance efforts, for which the GPSD provides a clear framework, is largely the responsibility of the Member States. Over the past months, the Member States have been working on this strategy, with the assistance of PROSAFE and a draft 'Strategy for Market Surveillance Action on Child-Resistant Disposable Lighters' has been developed. This document can be found on the website of the EMARS project.
As a result of the ongoing market surveillance efforts, measures against lighters that can no longer be placed on the market have already been taken by several Member States.
In the context of the ongoing joint market surveillance action on lighters, Member States have developped two non-exhaustive inventories:
Some examples of lighters against which the Member States have taken measures:
The lighters in the pictures below pose the risk of burns, in particular to young children, because they are attractive due to their shape and colours or because they produce sounds or lights or have other entertainment functions (e.g. when lifting the lid of the lighter or activating it). In these cases, the main measure taken by the national authorities (and sometimes on a voluntary basis by the producer or distributor) is the withdrawal of the lighters from the market.