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15 Nov 2010


Health & Consumers

Over three-quarters of imported lighter models on the European market are potentially dangerous. The Decision of the European Commission on the safety of lighters is still not being respected.

Consumers tend to overlook that many lighters use pressurised gas, stored in a plastic reservoir, to produce a flame. If not designed and manufactured properly, such a lighter can be dangerous with grave consequences for the user. A low-quality lighter can produce a tall flame resembling a torch, one able to burn the eyes and face of the user; it can project burning gas droplets when ignited or explode when dropped, creating a fireball under certain circumstances.

According to the European Commission, up to 40 deaths and 1.900 injuries each year in the EU are caused by lighters. Furthermore, the victims are often children.

Studies from around the world stress the importance of compliance with standards in ensuring consumer safety. However, the enforcement of products with legislation and standards is key.

Several lighter brands comply with EN ISO 9994, the International Standard for lighters, and EN 13869, the European Standard for child-resistant lighters. But a significant number of lighters available on the European market have been found not to be in compliance with these standards in tests carried out by independent parties.

Requirements for lighter safety set out in Decision 2006/502/EC of the European Commission have been obligatory for lighters placed on the European market since 11 March 2008. Yet 76 percent of lighter models tested by PROSAFE1 were not in conformity with EN ISO 9994 as indicated in their report published in February 2010.

“Bearing in mind the serious - and sometimes fatal - injuries caused by unsafe products, European consumers are calling for application of preventive actions. The lighter market is a perfect example for such actions. The risk to consumer safety is known; safety standards exist and there is the regulatory impetus of a Commission Decision. In the interests of consumers, it is now time to make it happen on the ground. Despite the efforts made by authorities to oversee the application of the ban, the evidence is that there is still much work to be done. Once again, ANEC calls for the creation of a European framework for market surveillance in order to ensure the effective and co-ordinated implementation of enforcement activities at the national level2” said Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General.


1 Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe

2 See “Joint ANEC/ORGALIME position paper "Call for an effective pan-European market surveillance system" (


ANEC in brief

ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies. ANEC was established in 1995 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law and represents consumer organisations from 31 European countries. ANEC is funded by the European Union and EFTA, with national consumer organisations contributing in kind. Its Secretariat is based in Brussels.


More information:

Contact: Stephen Russell
Tel: +32 (0)2 743 2470