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More Kiwis think fireworks sales are a fizzer

26 October 2005

More Kiwis think fireworks sales are a fizzer

More than half of New Zealanders think fireworks should not be available for sale, a survey has revealed.

With fireworks going on sale from today (October 27), a survey of 1000 people aged 15 and over conducted for the New Zealand Fire Service shows 54 percent of Kiwis think no-one should be able to buy them over the counter.

Of the 41 percent who support continued sale of fireworks from retail outlets, four out of five said the age restriction for buying them should be increased from the current limit of 14 years.

In all, 82 percent said the limit should be raised, with most (36 percent) opting for a restriction to those aged 16 or above.

About the same number (35 percent) said fireworks should be in line with tobacco and alcohol, with sales limited to those aged 18 years or above.

Support for the current age restriction was 14 percent, while two percent said there should be no age restriction at all.

However, Kiwis overwhelmingly back public fireworks displays, with 88 percent saying they support the idea of a public fireworks display in their town or area.

The results come at a time when fireworks-related fires continue to increase, as the number of fireworks sold in New Zealand each year increases.

Fire Services figures show the number of fires caused by fireworks have tripled in the past four years.

Last year fireworks caused 350 reported fires in homes and other buildings, cars and vegetation.

This year Environmental Risk Management Authority says 1700 tonnes of fireworks have been imported for retail sale, compared with 1100 tonnes in 2004, a 50 percent increase.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Baxter says the survey shows the public is clearly getting the message that backyard fireworks displays aren’t worth the price of damage to people, property and pets.

“The economic impact on our environment, our heritage and ourselves isn’t sustainable in the long term. It’s now time for Kiwis to decide whether or not we ban retail sales of fireworks completely.”

Mr Baxter says public displays have increased in number and sophistication over the years, and as a result are now widely supported by the public.

He says the public displays are set up by professionals with a greater emphasis on safety.

A ban on retail sales would allow people to enjoy the traditional fun of Guy Fawkes Day, without allowing irresponsible users ten days of access to fireworks.

“The days leading up to Guy Fawkes cause as many problems as the day itself. A ban would make life that much easier for the Fire Service.”

ENDS

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