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Friday, October 1, 1999 Published at 05:28 GMT 06:28 UK


Lighter fuel sales ban for young

The measure is aimed at reducing solvent abuse

Gas cigarette lighter refills will be sold only to people over the age of 18 from now on.

The government hopes the move will reduce the abuse of gas refills by young people.

Shopkeepers face a large fine or jail if they are caught selling refills to anyone under 18.

The measure has been introduced under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Figures for 1997 show that 73 people died from sniffing gases, aerosols, glues, solvents and other volatile substances.

[ image: Teenagers aged between 16 and 18 can smoke, but not buy refills for their lighters]
Teenagers aged between 16 and 18 can smoke, but not buy refills for their lighters
That accounted for one in 50 of all deaths among teenagers between the ages 15 and 19.

"The new measure will help prevent the appalling damage that volatile substance abuse can cause young people and their families," said Home Office minister Charles Clarke.

"With the support and help of retailers I am confident that we can make a real impact on the deaths and suffering all too often associated with gas lighter refill misuse."

The move comes as the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local authorities, and the charity Re-Solv launch a new crackdown on the abuse of lighter fuel.

Guidelines for councils

They are drawing up guidelines for social services departments to help councils tackle the problem of teenage abusers.

An LGA spokesman said: "With at least six people dying from volatile substance abuse every month it is vital local authorities take action to combat the problem.

"We are devising guidelines to give social workers the information they need to go out into the community and warn young people about the dangers of abuse."

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