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EU Renews Prohibition of Non-child-resistant Lighters and Novelty Lighters for Further One-year Period

On 17 February 2015, the EU’s Official Journal published Commission Implementing Decision 2015/249, extending the validity of Decision 2006/502/EC for a further year. The latter Decision had put in place a ban on the sale of certain cigarette lighters which are not child-resistant, and also on so-called “novelty lighters”.

Hong Kong’s sellers of lighters that fall within the scope of this Decision should by now be well aware of its legal ramifications. The Decision, as renewed, requires that the lighters subject to it and placed on the EU market must be child-resistant according to specific standards. In addition, novelty lighters – which are described as lighters which resemble objects that are particularly attractive to children, including cartoon animal characters, musical notes, items of food and toys – shall continue to be prohibited on the EU market.

The ban on the placing on the market and import of non-child-resistant lighters and of novelty lighters was introduced by the Commission Decision of 2006 and took effect on 11 March 2007 for an initial period of one year. With effect from 11 May 2008, the ban was extended to also prohibit sales of the concerned products to consumers. The ban was then prolonged each year. Last year’s decision extended it until 11 May 2015. With the latest Decision, published on 17 February 2015, the ban will remain in effect until 11 May 2016, making this the ninth extension. There may very well be further extensions in the years to come.

In accordance with the requirements, a lighter is deemed to be child-resistant if it is designed and manufactured in such a way that it cannot, under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions, be operated by children that are younger than 51 months of age. Lighters which comply with European standard EN 13869:2002 (a standard which establishes child resistance specifications for lighters) are presumed to be in conformity with Decision 2006/502/EC. Conformity is also presumed for lighters that are in compliance with the child-resistance requirements of non-EU countries, if these are equivalent to the requirements of the 2006 Decision (such as the rules applicable in the U.S.).

As a condition for placing lighters on the market, Hong Kong’s EU importers have to keep and provide the competent authorities of the Member States with, upon their request, a report of a child-resistance test from a recognised testing body which certifies the child-resistance of the lighter model concerned. The Member States’ competent authorities will continue to check whether lighter models sold in the EU are child-resistant and can require Hong Kong’s EU importers to submit production records showing that all lighters produced conform to the tested model.

A matter that will continue to be of particular concern to Hong Kong’s exporters is that the resistance requirement primarily affects disposable plastic lighters and low-cost metal lighters. Refillable lighters which meet the following criteria are, therefore, not covered by the child-resistance requirement, as they are believed not to be so easily accessible to children:

  • the refillable lighter must be designed to last for at least five years, subject to repair;
  • the lighter must benefit from a producer’s written guarantee of at least two years;
  • it must be practically possible to repair and safely refill the lighter during its lifetime and, in particular, the ignition mechanism must be repairable;
  • it must be possible to have the parts of the lighter that are not consumable replaced or repaired by an authorised or specialised after-sales service centre based in the EU.

Novelty lighters, i.e., lighters that resemble objects that are especially appealing to children, are banned without exception.

The Commission has justified the need to once again prolong the ban on non-child-resistant and novelty lighters by the absence of any other satisfactory measures addressing the child safety of lighters. Hong Kong’s exports of such items will therefore continue to face checks carried out by the competent authorities of the Member States to ensure that only lighters which are specifically designed to be child-resistant are placed on the market and sold in the EU and that no novelty lighters are sold.

The latest Decision extending the initial 2006 Decision additionally states that lighters which are not child-resistant are still being placed on the market. It therefore calls on Member States to ensure that reinforced market surveillance activities, from targeted sampling to effective restriction measures, should further ensure that their presence is decreased.

Please click the following to read Commission Implementing Decision 2015/249.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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