Jeff Huddleston, Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office
Starting July 1st, you will no longer be able to buy a novelty lighter here in Tennessee.
This comes after a NewsChannel 5 investigation exposed the dangers earlier this year of these lighters that often look just like toys.
Consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus' story also prompted state lawmakers to take the dramatic step of outlawing them
If you're looking for a novelty lighter, as of July 1st, you won't find them sold in Tennessee.
Jeff Huddleston with the state Fire Marshal's office says, "Cause they're dangerous and they're enticing to children. That's the thing."
So-called novelty lighters often look and sound just like toys. And, when we showed them to a group of young kids, that's exactly what they thought they were, much to the horror of their parents.
Huddleston says, "If they looked like cigarette lighters, they know not to play with them. But, they look like they're toys and that's why they shouldn't be sold."
Parents agreed. And so did state lawmakers after seeing our investigation.
Huddleston explains, "When the lawmakers saw that and saw the parents' reaction to their children being able to activate these things, that I think really made the difference. That is what really clicked and said, 'Wow, these kids have no idea of what they're playing with.'"
During a hearing on the issue back in March in fact one state lawmaker told his colleagues, "I am in shock of what I just saw."
State lawmakers called the lighters "scary" and they quickly and unanimously passed legislation that makes it illegal to either sell or give away a novelty lighter in Tennessee.
According to Huddles ton, "This is the definition of fire prevention. If we can prevent one child from being burned in the state of Tennessee by these things, then we've done our job."
While the ban doesn't take effect until July 1st, the manager at one major discount store chain told NewsChannel 5 that they no longer carry novelty lighters, that they stopped selling them soon after seeing our report.
Tennessee is now the 2nd state in the country to ban novelty lighters. The state of Oregon is working to pass similar legislation and the fire marshal there is now using our story to teach others about the dangers of these lighters.
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