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Lighter bill ignites stiffer penalties

Fines would be multiplied

Novelty lighters such as this, made to resemble toys are targeted by the legislation now before state legislators. (click for larger version)
December 13, 2009
Changes to a bill before the state Legislature would increase the penalties to be imposed on those who sell novelty lighters.

A new version of the bill, a combination of two similar proposals, is progressing through the State House, according to State Rep. Geraldo Alicea, D-Charlton, who proposed the idea earlier this year and hopes to make the law final by February.

Changes include increasing the penalty to a maximum $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The Committee on Bills in the Third Reading is now reviewing legislation.

The new version, like the old, would ban the sale of the lighters, which resemble children's toys. A novelty lighter is defined as one that would appeal to children 10 and younger. The bill would not apply to lighters made before Jan. 1, 1980, which are considered to be collectibles. The law would also exempt individuals transporting the devices through the state and to another.

The bill has garnered some opposition, most notably from the National Lighter Association, which represents the lighter industry.

Executive Director David Baker said he has twice tried to speak with Alicea about his concerns regarding the bill, but received no response. For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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