New Rules Target Utility Lighters

Robin Fields covers consumer issues for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7810 and at

The federal government has issued new safety standards designed to make multipurpose lighters as child-resistant as cigarette lighters.

Children under 5 have started at least 237 fires with multipurpose lighters since 1988, resulting in 45 deaths, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

Butane-filled multipurpose lighters--also called utility lighters, grill lighters, fireplace lighters, gas matches or micro-torches--typically are used to ignite barbecues, camping stoves and candles.


Once the standard takes effect next year, the lighters will be required to have childproof mechanisms similar to those on cigarette lighters. The mechanisms must reset after every use.

At least two childproof multipurpose lighters are already on the market, the CPSC said.