Health Brief: Novelty Lighters

  • This Health Brief is available in Portable Document Format (PDF).
picture of frog lighter

Public Health Issue

  • Novelty lighters are fully functioning cigarette lighters that come in many shapes appealing to children.
  • These types of products are potentially dangerous to the public's health and safety. Novelty lighters appear to be harmless toys. It would be difficult for young children and even adults to identify them as lighters. In addition to being a fire safety issue, the lighters also present a potential for childhood lead exposure.
  • On September 27, 2013, legislation was signed banning the distribution and sale of novelty lighters in New York State. However, thousands of lighters have already been sold in New York State and novelty lighters are still available for purchase in 34 states.

Fire Safety Issue

  • Novelty lighters have been linked to incidents of fire-related deaths, injuries, and property loss.

Lead Exposure Issue

  • Children are known to put objects in their mouths and are very susceptible to the harmful effects of lead. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) tested nine novelty lighters purchased in NYS for the presence of lead.
  • All nine lighters (see below) were found to contain lead in the surface paint. Five of the lighters had lead levels in excess of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act limit of 90 parts per million (range: 31 to 8,000 parts per million).
Lighter Name Lead Level
(parts per million)
Frog 8000
Rose 6500
Skate 5500
Giraffe 2480
Cow 250
Silver (Baseball) Bat 100
Astronaut 51
Marker 34
Airplane 31

The New York State Department of Health is conducting outreach to other states to share these findings and learn of any childhood lead poisoning cases due to novelty lighters.

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