Might want to reconsider your gift-list for 2009:

State Rep. Ed Wildberger, a Democrat from St. Joseph and a former firefighter, has pre-filed a bill that would make it illegal to sell novelty lighters in Missouri. The proposed law would specifically prohibit lighters that look like cartoon characters, animals, vehicles or food products. Lighters that play music or have flashing lights also would be outlawed.

The bill is HB98. So let’s go to the bill to find the definition:

As used in this section, “novelty lighters” means a mechanical or electrical device typically used for lighting cigarettes, cigars, or pipes that has entertaining audio or visual effects[1], or that resembles in physical form or function articles commonly recognized as appealing to or intended for use by children less than eighteen years of age. This includes, but is not limited to, lighters that resemble cartoon characters[2], toys, guns, watches, musical instruments, vehicles, toy animals, food or beverages, or that play musical notes or have flashing lights or other entertaining features. Novelty lighters may operate on any fuel, including butane or liquid fuel.

1 – So a novelty lighter reciting the periodic table isn’t threatened by this bill?

2 – One would guess by this wording that Pamela Anderson lighters would be legal, while Jessica Rabbit lighters would be illegal.

Unsurprisingly, opinions vary on this bill.

Fire groups across the country support such a ban because the entertaining lighters pose a risk to children. “One of the things that concerns us about novelty lighters is they look like toys, and that causes children to treat them as toys, increasing the potential for accidental fires to start,” said Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire Protection District. “When you see a lighter that looks like a football or a toy, kids are going to be more apt to play with them.”


Randy Trierwieler, manager of Midway Truck Plaza, where novelty lighters are a big seller, thinks it should be a parent’s responsibility – not a lawmaker’s – to keep lighters out of little hands. “If you have a Bugs Bunny lighter and a 3-year-old, don’t leave it out,” Trierwieler said. “I don’t think it’s something you need to pass a law for. There are a lot more serious problems in this country than passing legislation determining what can or can’t be on a lighter.”

So while it seems a bit over-elaborate to have some of these possible novelty lighters. There’s not an open and shut case on either side. But when you consider the current House leadership, i’m going to guess that your Santa Claus lighters will be safe in the 2009 session.