Kentucky Flame Out

The Louisville, Ky., Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously passed an ordinance this week that bans the sale of lighters that “are not readily identifiable as lighters.” Fire officials say they are often picked up by children.

The ordinance will go before the full council at next week’s meeting and will be on the consent calendar for noncontroversial items, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The ordinance defines a novelty lighter as being one that has “entertaining audio or visual effects” or is made to resemble cartoon characters, toys, guns, watches, musical instruments, vehicles, toy animals, food or beverages. Sale of novelty lighters would be a misdemeanor with fines of $25 to $500.

Theresa Baker, trauma outreach coordinator for University Hospital, told the committee that novelty lighters can be found in most convenience stores, flea markets, dollar stores and ther retail outlets. She said the lighters almost universally lack a safety feature that would prevent children from igniting the flame. And, she said, adults often leave them within reach of children.

Such lighter bans have become trendy around the country–Arkansas, Maine, Texas and Washington state have passed them.

Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, said that’s a problem. He told Courier-Journal there needs to be equal enforcement on such bans.

“Convenience stores compete against everyone–the dollar stores, drugstores the grocery stores,” Lenard said. “So when you have legislation that is seemingly well-meaning, it’s important to think things through carefully and make sure it doesn’t have unintended consequences of punishing one channel of trade.”

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