Cigarette lighters are to be made more child-proof – a move that could potentially save dozens of lives each year.
The European Commission said it will only allow lighters fitted with childproof devices to be sold in EU states.
EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said: `Thanks to this new measure, lives will be saved by adding inexpensive child-resistant devices to lighters.
‘This marks a key step forward in the protection of consumers from fires caused by children playing with lighters, which lead to deaths, injuries and material damage.’
Up to 40 people, often children, die annually in the EU as a result of fires caused by young children playing with unsafe lighters, while thousands more are injured.
However simple devices – costing manufacturers less than three pence per lighter – can be added to block them working in the wrong hands.
Similar safety measures are already in place in several countries including America, which has seen a 60 per cent fall in the number of fires started by children since the measure was introduced.