January 4, 2002
Tennessee Distributor Agrees To Pay
$180,000 Fine For Selling Illegal Cigarette Lighters
- 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
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.