Ban on lighter refills

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CHILDREN under 16 could be banned from buying gas lighter refills under Home Office proposals to try and cut the death toll caused by sniffing toxic substances, writes Jason Bennetto.

About 40 of the 68 deaths from volatile substances in 1995 were caused by sniffing lighter fuel.

It is illegal for a shop-keeper to sell any volatile substance, such as fuel, to anyone aged under 18 if they believe the product is going to be inhaled.

The Home Office is proposing to tighten up the law by banning the sale of gas refills to people aged under 16 regardless of why they want the product.

George Howarth, the Home Office minister, said yesterday that his department was consulting a number of organisations including local authorities and the Department of Health about changing the law.

He said: "The Government is very concerned about the number of deaths from the abuse of gas lighter refills. Steps need to be taken to reduce them. One way of achieving this is to make it harder for these potentially deadly products to get into the hands of young people."