Novelty lighters spark bill to ban sale

CARSON CITY -- The sale of novelty lighters would be outlawed in Nevada under a bill approved 28-12 Monday in the state Assembly.

Members backed Assembly Bill 266 after Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said a "no" vote would be a vote against children's safety.

Oceguera, a North Las Vegas firefighter, said the lighters look like toys and can spark fires when used improperly.

"I have burned myself" using them, he said.

But Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said protecting children from such toy lighters is a matter of parental responsibility.

"This is a nanny-state issue, telling people what they can and cannot do," he said.

In Oceguera's legislative office, he displayed 10 lighters that looked like toys that he had bought at a nearby convenience store. Nothing prevents children from buying them.

Some of the lighters look like toy guns, and one closely resembles a yellow duck from a popular children's game.

Oceguera said the lighters can be dangerous because you cannot tell where the flame will emerge.

He has not seen any fires in North Las Vegas caused by novelty lighters, but Oceguera said they have ignited many fires across the United States. Their sale has been outlawed in Europe, he added.

In March, Maine became the first state to prohibit such novelty lighters after a 6-year-old boy picked up a baseball-shaped lighter in a store and burned part of his face.

Two Arkansas children died in an accident last year after playing with a lighter shaped like a motorcycle.

Some states and countries allow sales of toy-shaped lighters if they are equipped with child-proofing devices.

The National Association of Fire Marshals supports a national ban on the sale of novelty lighters.

All Republicans opposed the bill except for Assemblyman Chad Christensen, the father of four sons.

Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas, and John Carpenter, R-Elko, were absent.

Contact reporter Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.


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