Washington Bill Seeks A Ban On Novelty Lighters

The seattletimes.com website reported in a story on January 20, 2009 that State Senator Claudia Kauffman was sponsoring the senate version of bill SB 5011 that would ban Novelty lighters to prevent personal injury in Seattle.

Kauffman said, “It’s really to stave off any potential dangers that are out there for youth in such a confusing manner.”

One lighter that particularly struck Kauffman as dangerous was one shaped like a miniature camera. Kauffman said, “you put it up to your eye, and the flame comes out the top, and these lighters are displayed at the front counter of any convenience store.”

Joe Meinecke, public educator with the Tacoma Fire Department can attest personally to the dangers of these novelty lighters. As a matter of fact, he owns one shaped like a miniature gun and refers to it as his $50,000 lighter. The reason for this name is because that is the total sum of damage it caused to a Tacoma family’s home when a four year old played with it and set a couch on fire. Meinecke now uses it as a prop in his fire safety lessons with children and families.

If Meinecke gets his way, Washington will join Maine and Tennessee in banning novelty lighters as a defective product. Fire Marshal Mike Matlick said, “We have a significant problem with juvenile fire setters. Enhancing that problem with lighters that look like toys is not in the interest of public safety.”

John Gibson, owner of Gibson Enterprises disagrees with the state. Gibson said, “I think the first line of defense is the parent. A ban isn’t going to solve all their problems. Are they going to ban matches, too?” Gibson concluded by stating, “We’re converting our entire business in anticipation of these kinds of problems.”

The public has the right to expect that a manufacturer will produce a safe product built with the highest quality materials available. A manufacturer is expected to stand behind its product and the public should demand accountability from the manufacturer for personal injury caused by the product. The Bernard Law Group Washington product liability lawyers have extensive knowledge and expertise in this area and can help you. Please call 1-800-418-8282 for a free consultation.