Novelty lighters that look like children's toys were blamed for two deaths in Arkansas in 2007 and for many fires throughout the country after children played with them. Now, the Lexington fire department is joining a national push to keep novelty lighters out of children's hands.
The department issued a news release Tuesday asking parents of young children not to buy lighters that look like toys.
"You can see the size of the problem by just visiting eBay," Lexington Fire Chief Robert Hendricks said in the release. Ebay, an online auction site, offers an array of lighters shaped like toy guns, motorcycles, guitars and dice.
Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said he has seen lighters shaped like footballs, toy cars and cameras.
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"You can train kids not to touch your cigarette lighter, but if it looks like a toy ... it doesn't take but a second for that to turn tragic," Griggs said.
"Can you imagine holding a lighter up to your face, thinking you're playing with a camera?" he asked. "What a terrible design that is."
The Lexington fire department has a public service announcement, displaying some of the lighters, on the Urban County Government's Web site. Several states — including Louisiana, Arkansas and Maine — have banned the sale of novelty lighters.
In 2009, similar legislation in Kentucky was introduced in the House of Representatives, but it later stalled in the Senate.
"Whether they're banned or not, they're dangerous," Griggs said.