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Cigarette Lighters

Volume 410: debated on Monday 18 August 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Cigarette Lighter Refill Gas Regulations; what plans he has for (a) increasing the age limit and (b) introducing a licensing system; and if he will make a statement. [128344]

The Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999 prohibit the sale or supply of such refills to anyone under 18 years. The Regulations came into force on 1 October 1999 and are enforced by local authority trading standards officers. Local Trading Standards departments have a key public protection role, carrying out surveys within their areas to find out whether shops are selling lighter refills to under age persons, and investigating possible legal breaches.Although the number of deaths resulting from the abuse of butane gas refills and other volatile substances has remained fairly stable since 1991, the Government remain very concerned about any young person who dies in this way. We do not believe, however, that increasing the age limit to which the Regulations apply would help to any significant degree. Nor do we think a licensing system would add significantly to the controls which are already in place.

In partnership with other Government Departments including DfES, Home Office and DTI, the Department of Health is putting together a comprehensive action plan, within the context of wider substance misuse policy, covering key areas such as prevention, manufacturing, research and legislation. A first draft should be available in autumn 2003.