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Senator wants to ban 'toy' lighters that attract children

Tiny brightly-colored cigarette lighters that look like little toys are a menace to children and adults, said a state senator who today introduced a bill to ban them from sale in South Carolina.

“I had no idea these type of lighters existed out there,” said Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee.

Alexander’s bill would impose a $500 fine on anyone who sells a “novelty lighter” in a store or who uses them as promotion items.

The bill, assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is enthusiastically backed by firefighters from around the state who gathered today at the State House. The firefighters were members of the State Firefighters’ Association.

Alexander displayed one “novelty lighter” that looked like a miniature camera and explained how a child pretending to take a picture could easily burn his eye area when clicking the lighter. He showed a reporter another tiny lighter with flashing lights that looked like a toy ladybug.

“This shocks me,” he said.

Some “toy” cigarette lighters play music, his bill says.

Fire fighting officials said children are taught to stay away from matches and lighters, yet putting a lighter into a toylike device entices unwitting children to, literally, “play with fire.”

Fighters didn’t know of any S.C. fires that had been started by children using novelty lighters.

But in 2007, approximately 35% of fires started by children in South Carolina were caused by a child using some kind of cigarette lighter, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.