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January 4,  2002

Tennessee Distributor Agrees To Pay $180,000 Fine For Selling Illegal Cigarette Lighters


(SafetyAlerts) - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that Popular Products Inc., and its owner Charles Heflin, of Memphis, Tenn., have agreed to pay $180,000 to settle allegations that they knowingly sold disposable cigarette lighters that failed to meet government requirements for child resistance. The fine settles a lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

The CPSC alleged that Popular Products and Heflin violated the Consumer Product Safety Act in 1996 by selling cigarette lighters that were labeled as having a child-resistant safety mechanism, but in fact did not contain the mechanism. These lighters had their child resistant mechanisms removed by Donald Anthony, who is currently serving a federal term of incarceration for a felony conviction associated with these illegal actions.

"Kids are more likely to start fires with cigarette lighters that are not child-resistant. This case underscores CPSC's determination to enforce our life-saving safety requirements," stated Acting Chairman Thomas Moore.

Since the enactment of the safety standard for cigarette lighters in July 1994, deaths to children are down 43 percent. Before cigarette lighters were required to be child-resistant, fire loss data revealed an estimated annual average of 7,250 residential structure fires, 190 deaths and 1,290 injuries that resulted from children under 5 playing with lighters. The resulting risk of death in those fires was more than three times the risk in residential fires generally.

Source: CPSC.

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