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Retailers Warned Over Cigarette Lighters

157 retailers warned they risk breaching lighter standard, distributors and manufacturers being investigated


The Commerce Commission has warned 157 retailers that they risk breaching the product safety standard for cigarette lighters and is investigating some distributors and manufacturers of cigarette lighters.

Commission Fair Trading Manager Rachel Leamy said that the Minister of Consumer Affairs introduced the safety standard earlier this year following a spate of fires started by children playing with cigarette lighters. The standard requires lighters to be child resistant.

Ms Leamy said that the retailers have been warned that the standard states that each batch of lighters must have a certificate stating that the batch complies with the standard. Those sent warning letters either had no certificates or certificates for only some batches.

The warnings have gone to a wide range of dairies, gift shops, service stations, magazine shops and tobacconists in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Distributors and manufacturers, who provide the certificates to retailers, are being investigated because some of the certificates do not have the information the standard requires.

“The lack of information might be the result of administrative oversight, or it might be because lighters have not been tested and may not be child resistant,” Ms Leamy said. “We are investigating to answer that question.”
After the investigation the Commission will decide what, if any, further action it will take. It can issue a warning, accept a settlement including signed undertakings of how behaviour would change, or take court action. Courts can impose fines of up to $100,000.

Ms Leamy said that the investigation is likely to take several weeks.

Background

Retailers selling or giving away cigarette lighters must do two things. Each batch of cigarette lighters must have a certificate and each lighter must be correctly labelled.

Staff from the Commission or New Zealand Customs can ask for certificates to be provided within 10 days. The certificates must state:
 that the batch of cigarette lighters is child resistant;
 the name and address of the supplier;
 the year and month of manufacture; and
 the manufacturer’s name and street address.

Each lighter must be correctly labelled (this can be in code, e.g. like a bar code) with:
 the year and month of manufacture; and
 the manufacturer’s name.

The Commission has produced a free fact sheet for shops. Manufacturers, importers and distributors must meet additional requirements. The Commission strongly recommends that they read its free booklet, Safety Standards for Cigarette Lighters.

ENDS

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