We normally know that minors are not allowed to purchase things such as alcohol, tobacco, or firearms. The reason is that these things are either dangerous or unhealthy for minors to consume. However, what about lighters? What age do you need to be to purchase lighters?
In general, most states in the United States do not ban the sale of lighters to minors. However, many shopkeepers commonly do not sell to minors. Many shopkeepers think if the minor misused the lighter they sold, they might be liable for damages or lawsuits. FDA does not consider lighters as tobacco products.
In this post, we explore how old you must be to purchase lighters and what issues contribute to the current decision. We also explore some legal questions around the sale of lighters, such as if defective lighters can be sold.
At What Age Can You Purchase Lighters?
There is no set age limit to buy lighters, as lighters are not considered tobacco products by the FDA. However, shopkeepers may exercise their discretion and not sell to minors as a way to encourage safe use. Minors may still purchase lighters online in places such as Amazon.
Generally, most ‘adults only’ items are considered unsafe, unhealthy, or too explicit for minors. Some of these items include tobacco, firearms, alcohol, pornography, marijuana, and many more.
Lighters, although usually considered part of the paraphernalia for tobacco consumption, are not considered a tobacco product by USFDA (United States Food And Drug Administration.)
This decision makes sense since a lighter can be used in many more ways than to only light up tobacco products such as cigarettes or cigars. It may make sense to consider tobacco paper or cigarette filters as tobacco products. This is because they have a more specific use directly related to tobacco consumption.
As such, there is no limitation on who can buy lighters. Legally, any person, be it an adult, minor, or child, can walk into a store and purchase a lighter.
However, shopkeepers generally refuse to sell lighters to minors for many reasons. Some see it as a safety hazard to place a fire-making device in the hands of minors. Some shopkeepers also equate lighters with cigarettes, although this is fully within the shop owner’s discretion.
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Why Are Minors Not Allowed To Buy Lighters?
Technically, minors can buy lighters. However, some sellers may refuse to sell to minors as they believe it’s a safety hazard. Some also prefer to have adults buy from them for the minor as a way to encourage safe use. Some sellers think selling lighters may encourage smoking, and some also worry about potential legal liability.
Legally, any person can purchase a lighter, be it an adult, minor, or child. However, in practice, many shopkeepers or merchants do not sell to minors for several reasons:
A lighter is a device to create fire, which can produce disastrous results if placed in the hands of the wrong or incompetent person. This makes lighters a safety hazard.
A minor may not have ill intentions, but they may not have the skills or understanding to use the lighter properly. For example, they may simply want to use the lighter to start a small fire to burn off some papers. Still, the fire eventually spreads and burns down a row of houses due to uncontrolled burning.
This still has not taken into account any possible minors with ill intent attempting to commit arson by purchasing a lighter. As such, many sellers simply decide not to sell directly to minors.
Lighters, if misused, may easily harm not just the external environment of the minor but the minor itself. For example, suppose the minor has not been trained on using a zippo-like lighter. In that case, they may accidentally burn themselves from touching the hot wind protector.
For your Bic-style nylon-based lighters, children may discover that by pressing on the gas lever without creating a spark, they can release the lighter gas. They may inhale the gas without knowing the danger and become intoxicated.
Encouraging Supervised Use
When noticing a minor purchasing lighter, many sellers may refuse to sell directly. Sometimes, they may request the presence of an adult related to the minor to purchase the lighter.
The idea here is that a minor may use a lighter, for example, to complete some school projects or start a campfire. However, minors may still not be worthy enough to be trusted with such a dangerous device.
As such, selling to an adult related to the minor indirectly informs the adult that the minor may be in possession of a lighter, and as such, the adult should supervise the minor’s use to avoid potential problems or disasters.
Discourage Tobacco and Marijuana Consumption
Despite official government prohibition, many minors have engaged in tobacco and marijuana consumption.
Although fires are unnecessary, tobacco and marijuana are often consumed by burning and inhaling the smoke. As such, a lighter may be needed to create the fire needed to start the burning process.
By refusing to sell lighters to minors, some shopkeepers believe they can contribute to reducing minors’ consumption of tobacco and marijuana and improving public health in a small way.
Avoiding Potential Legal Liability
Although rather rare, merchants that sold a lighter to a minor may be in some liability. This is because the merchant could be seen as complicit or have assisted the minor in his actions.
For example, say a merchant sold a minor a lighter, who then used the lighter to commit arson and burn down their school. Legally, there may be a way to argue in court that without the lighter, the minor would not have been able to burn down the school.
This means that by selling the minor the lighter, the merchant has become complicit in the crime. The merchant has assisted the minor in committing arson and may be liable legally.
Do You Need An ID To Buy A Lighter?
Legally, you do not need an ID to buy a lighter. But if the shopkeeper requests to view your ID, you should still comply and show it. The shopkeeper is attempting to control the sale of a potentially dangerous item out of his own sense of responsibility. As such, you should assist in the effort by collaborating.
Legally, any person with a sound mind can purchase a lighter. Man, women, adults, or children. This is because there are no official restrictions from the government about the sale of lighters, nor are lighters considered tobacco products by the USFDA.
However, many sellers understand that a lighter is a potential safety hazard, as a lighter can easily cause a fire that can burn down property and forests and kill lives.
As such, many sellers take their own initiative to regulate its sale. Many simply do not sell to minors, asking them to ask for one from an adult or a relative to purchase it for them.
Therefore, they may apply the same approach to selling lighters as they sell alcohol or firearms, in that they ask for some ID to verify your age.
If asked, consider collaborating with the shopkeeper and show your ID. The shopkeeper does not have to do this legally but out of his sense of responsibility. Perhaps the shopkeeper believes in regulating sales of lighters to keep the community safer.
Suppose the shopkeeper simply sells all the lighters with reckless abandon. In that case, the risks of fires may be much higher around the neighborhood, as many minors may not be competent enough to handle the use of fire well.
The shopkeeper may also indirectly encourage tobacco and marijuana consumption by minors, as it makes it easier for them to light up and indulge in the habit.
Is It Legal To Take A Lighter To School?
Some children enjoy bringing a wide variety of items to their educational institutions. They may think it is cool to show it off to their friends. However, at a tender age, they may fail to consider that the objects they bring to school can cause harm to themselves and the school community.
A simple toy pistol pulled out to be used as a prank to scare their friend can easily be seen as a real firearm. This may trigger panic and cause a school shutdown and law enforcement agents’ potential involvement. The minor may also be charged with causing disorder in society.
A lighter can be seen as something to bring to school. Some children may enjoy flicking and closing the lid of a Zippo lighter and think it’s cool; others may also use it as a prank to scare or try to burn their friends. Some may even bring a lighter to school so they can smoke.
However, like firearms, a lighter can easily harm the child and the school if misused. Say a child lit a cigarette during school hours, smoked, but did not extinguish the cigarette before leaving. The burning cigarette eventually started a fire and burned down the school.
There is, therefore, no logical reason for children to bring a lighter to school. If there is a need for fire for whatever reason, the school should be able to arrange for an adult to provide supervision to the child.
On the other hand, it is not against the rules to bring a lighter to school. Many schools’ rule books may not even include lighters within their list of contrabands. There may also not be many school districts that ban children from bringing lighters to school. However, teachers or school administrators may not be happy to see children with lighters.