• Robyn McDonald
Consumer Affairs

The importation of cigarette lighters contained in toy-like containers are irresponsible and dangerous the Minister of Consumer Affairs Robyn McDonald said today.

"These lighter-toys present a real danger when they are in the hands of children and I expect the importers to realise this and remove them from the marketplace immediately."

The lighters, available in some design stores around New Zealand, are packaged in small metal toys shaped as buses, rockets and helicopters. The lighters are not child-proof-and their packages have been imported into New Zealand from Germany.

"These novelty packages are an invitation for children to use the lighters as toys," the Minister said, "I cannot believe importers can be so irresponsible in bringing such products into the country."

"The misuse of lighters by children has caused loss and devastation to many families in New Zealand. This year there have been three fatailities as a result of lighter abuse and these lighters are a recipe for further disaster."

"My officials have talked and will continue to talk with the importers in question in an attempt to persuade them to take the lighter-toys off sale.

"As there are no manadatory safety standards for lighters in this country at this time it is difficult to remove these products from the market.

"However, I have released a discussion paper calling for submissions aiming to make lighters childproof.

"Submissions on the discussion document close at the end of June. At that time all the feedback received will be analysed by officials who will present a report and recommendations to me around the end of July," Ms McDonald said.