Lassa Novelty Lighter Bill Passes Committee

Bill would keep lighters that look like toys out of the hands of kids

Madison — A bill to ban the sale of novelty lighters to minors, introduced by State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), was approved unanimously by the Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection today.  The vote clears the way for action by the full Assembly.

The proposal was introduced at the request of Pittsville Fire Chief Jerry Minor and a group of Pittsville elementary school students after one of their classmates was killed in a house fire where the cause was possibly due to a novelty lighter. 

“These lighters look like toys and are highly attractive to children who believe they are toys.  Some of these lighters play music, have flashing lights or resemble a cartoon character, toy, gun, watch, musical instrument, vehicle, animal, food, or beverage,” Lassa said. “Unfortunately, due to their clever design, parents are also fooled into believing these lighters are toys and allow their children to play with them.”

Lassa has introduced the proposal in previous sessions, and supporters are hopeful that the bill will pass the full Legislature quickly this time. The proposal was approved unanimously by consumer protection committees in both the Senate and Assembly in 2014.

The novelty lighter bill is based on model legislation developed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals, and has been endorsed by the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin EMS Association, the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association, the Lighter Association Inc., and the Wisconsin Fire Protection Coalition.  Seventeen other states currently have similar laws.

The bill would make it illegal to sell novelty lighters to minors and prohibits the display for retail sale of these lighters in an area of a retail establishment that is accessible to the general public.

“I hope this common-sense legislation will clear both houses this session and be signed into law, so we can protect our children from this fire hazard,” Lassa said.

Sen. Lassa introduced the bill along with Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa).