The ban is being brought in to prevent young children from playing with cigarette lighters, which are the ignition source for one in five of the child deaths from house fires in the UK.
The import ban will take place from March next year followed by a full ban on sales in March 2008.
Mr McCartney said
'When you see the hard facts it clear that young children will benefit from the change in the law. Not only are novelty lighters very appealing to kids but they are rarely child-resistant.
'With a fifth of house fires being started by children playing with lighters, these measures will make a real difference to the safety of young children.'
Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust said:
'This is great news for families with young children. Serious accidents happen when children play with fire - and novelty lighters are doubly dangerous because they appeal to young children but aren't child-resistant. Our advice to parents is to keep all lighters out of sight and reach of young children.'
1. In the UK during 2004, 286 fires were caused by cigarette lighters ignited by children resulting in 8 fatalities and 198 non-fatal injuries. (Source DCLG www.dclg.gov.uk)
2. Cigarette lighters are the ignition source for one in five (8 out of 38) of the child deaths from house fires in the UK (Source DCLG www.dclg.gov.uk
3. A direction to the local authorities on their enforcement of the European Commission Decision introducing these requirements across Europe was today signed by Ian McCartney. There will be a two-stage harmonised removal of non-child-resistant disposable lighters and all child-appealing novelty lighters from the market. The current Commission Decision requires the placing on the market of 'non-compliant' lighters to be prevented from the 11th March 2007. It is expected that a subsequent Decision (they have to be renewed after twelve months) will further prohibit the supply of 'non-compliant'
lighters to consumers from 11th March 2008.
For more information see www.dti.gov.uk