Cigarette lighters

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

The law

From March 2007 there was a ban on the placing on the European market of novelty lighters and lighters without a child-resistant mechanism. This only affects those who import or manufacture cigarette lighters.

  • retailers can, for the time being, continue to sell non child-resistant lighters and novelty lighters already in the supply chain, but it is very likely they will be totally banned after 11 March 2008
  • 'already in the supply chain' means that the imported lighters have cleared Customs, and lighters made in the EU have left the manufacturer and are ready for general distribution

Retailers may still be able to buy non child-resistant lighters from your wholesaler or supplier. These, and existing stock can legally be sold to the public, until the total ban comes in. However, all cigarette lighters sold must be safe and meet the requirements of the standard EN 9994:1996 or a later version.

If re-stocking with child-resistant lighters, retailers must be able to show a Trading Standards Officer where those lighters came from. Or if asked by phoning 0845 015 0010 and quoting reference URN 06/2116.

Lighters are consumer products which are inherently hazardous, since they produce a flame and contain a fuel. They pose a serious risk when
misused by children and have caused a number of deaths and injuries across the EU.

A decision was made by the European Commission, which has been introduced into the UK, to ensure that only child resistant lighters are placed onto the European market and also to prohibit the sale of novelty lighters.

Manufacturers and importers

Manufacturers and importers must retain documentation demonstrating that the lighters comply with the relevant standards.

Lighters must be child resistant i.e. cannot be operated by a child under 51 month.

No novelty lighter can be placed on the European market for the first time. A novelty lighter:

  • is appealing to children younger than 51 months
  • may have entertaining audio effects or animated effects
  • may have flashing lights, moving objects or other entertaining features
  • may be of appealing shape or form e.g. toys, food and human body parts; or Includes lighter holders

Lighters must still continue to meet the safety specifications detailed in BS EN ISO 9994:2006, as well as the additional child resistant requirements laid down in BS EN 13869: 2002.

Retailers and wholesalers

Implications for retailers and wholesalers:

  • they are required to keep, and to show on request by their local authority Trading Standards authority, documentation identifying the party from whom they obtained their supply of lighters
  • lighters must be properly marked before they can be sold to consumers

It is mandatory for all lighters to comply with BS EN ISO 9994 - lighter safety standard. All lighters must also comply with the child-resistance safety requirements of the Decision except the following:

  • lighters with a specific purpose e.g. barbecue and utility lighters
  • lighters which are sold with a 2 year written guarantee, are refillable and can be repaired by a European-based after-sales service

There are no exceptions for novelty lighters; all supply is prohibited.

Lighters which are printed with logos or have shrink wrapped artwork are not classed as novelty lighters.


Simple tests can be carried out to ensure the lighter meets the safety requirements.

Take a look at the lighter:

  • does it resemble a novelty lighter
  • is it a shape or form that is appealing to children under 51 months
  • does it have any entertaining effects

Check that all lighters are accompanied with the appropriate safety information and the specific word 'WARNING' in close proximity. Along with the relevant safety information, it should also contain the statements

  • 'Ignite lighter away from face and clothing'

Check that each lighter is marked with the time period of manufacture, which can be in code, and that the manufacturer can be identified.

Press the ignition system to check for child resistance. Consider whether a child of 51 months or younger would be able to operate it.