Novelty Lighters

Homeland Security and Emergency Services

novelty lighter

Novelty or toy-like lighters have been responsible for igniting fires across the nation, leading to unnecessary death and injury. Novelty lighters have a strong potential to attract children, who may not be capable of understanding the dangers such devices. In a study by the National Fire Protection Association, during the period between 2007-2011, more than half of the home fires caused by play were set by lighters, resulting in an average of 40 deaths per year.

In 2013, Governor Cuomo signed into law a ban on the sale of novelty lighters in New York State. Since the passage of the law, fires caused by lighters in New York State have decreased by 24%. Coupled with ongoing public education, New York seeks to make our communities and our residents safer from needless harm.

novelty lighter display
collection of OFPC staff acquired lighters


In the law, novelty lighters are defined as: "a mechanical or electrical device typically used for the purpose of producing a flame to light cigarettes, cigars or pipes and which, due to the physical or audio features of the device, excluding its capability of producing a flame, would reasonably be expected to cause the lighter to be appealing or attractive to a child including, but not limited to, lighters that resemble a cartoon character, toy, gun, watch, musical instrument, vehicle, animal, beverage, sporting equipment or that is capable of creating audio effects or displaying flashing lights." -New York State General Business Law 391-S

The law does provide some exceptions, which are listed below:

(1) A novelty lighter manufactured before January 1, 1980, and which is considered a collectible item within the collectible trade
(2) A disposable or refillable lighter with a logo, label, decal or artwork printed on it, on heat shrinkable sleeves or wrapping, but which does not otherwise resemble a novelty lighter
(3) Lighters not intended for sale or use in the state, but are transiting through or being temporarily stored in New York State during interstate commerce

Anyone wishing to report items they believe may be in violation of this law may contact the Inspection and Investigation Branch of the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control at (518) 474-6746 or email the office at