Lassa Novelty Lighter Bill Passes Senate 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 Senate  Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety today.  The vote clears the way for action by the full Senate.

            The Assembly companion to the novelty lighter proposal passed the Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection unanimously in September.  With today’s Senate committee vote, both houses of the Legislature could now give the bill final approval and send it to the Governor for his signature.

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. 

“Some of these lighters play music or have flashing lights, and they come in a wide variety of colorful shapes: mobile phones, cameras, fishing lures, cartoon characters, even rubber ducks,” Sen. Lassa said. “Naturally, children are attracted to these lighters, and because they look so much like toys, adults are often fooled into thinking they are safe for kids to play with.”

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.

“Children have been injured and killed in fires started with these lighters,” Sen. Lassa said. “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.”

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