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Consumers (11-03-2009)

Safety of lighters – continued effort is needed to ensure dangerous lighters are taken off the market

Children’s play with dangerous lighters is known to have caused house fires and inflicted terrible injuries on consumers for many years. In fact, it is estimated that 35-40 children die each year in Europe as a result of lighter-related accidents. This is why the European Commission decided to impose a sales ban for non-child-resistant lighters and novelty lighters which has been in place now for one year. Market surveillance authorities in the European Member Stateshave been actively enforcing that ban and checking lighters. The European Commission has supported these activities through a joint market surveillance action in which thirteen Member States are participating. The results of these activities show that during the first year of the ban more than 600 lighter models1 have been removed from the European market. While these results are encouraging it is clear that significantly more effort will be needed to ensure that unsafe lighters do not find their way into the homes of European consumers. (see

According to the EU General Product Safety Directive any product that is placed on the European market must be safe. This is an obligation for producers, importers and distributors. Moreover, Member States are obliged to undertake market surveillance to ensure economic operators comply with this requirement. The European Commission decision banning non-child-resistant lighters and novelty lighters means that from 11 March 2008 onwards it has been illegal to offer such lighters to consumers. Lighters are presumed to be safe if they are constructed and produced in a way that they meet the requirements of two standards governing properties such as flame height, extinction time and child-resistance. Furthermore, lighters can not be appealing to children meaning that they can not resemble objects such as toys, mobile phones, cartoon characters, etc.

For further information

1Those of the 600 lighters that present the most serious risk to the consumer can be found in the RAPEX reports on the European Commission’s website (