Sunday, July 5, 2009

From industry standpoint, fireworks should skyrocket

The time is long overdue to change the fireworks laws in New York to provide for sensible and regulated use of all consumer fireworks. Forty- five states now allow some level of consumer fireworks, and the national trend has been to liberalize the fireworks laws.

Statistics released by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show a reduction from 12,500 estimated fireworks-related injuries in 1994 to only 9,800 in 2007, a reduction of more than 21 percent.

In 1994, America imported 117 million pounds of fireworks, rising to 265.5 million pounds in 2007, an increase of more than 125 percent. When you factor in usage, based on injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks used, fireworks-related injuries were reduced by 65.42 percent from 1994 to 2007. That is impressive.

The 1994 time frame is meaningful. In 1994, the American Fireworks Standards laboratory began its quality improvement program and testing of the fireworks at the factory level in China prior to the products being permitted to be exported to the United States.
Most consumer products with which any degree of risk is associated, such as ATVs, personal watercraft, trampolines and the like, produce increased injuries along with increased use. Not so with consumer fireworks, where use has increased and injuries have decreased.
Indiana legalized the regulated use of consumer fireworks in 2006, and the result is more tax revenue and more employment for Indiana, along with an amazing reduction in fireworks-related injuries over the three seasons.

We have an American fireworks-buying public that respects the products and follows the suggested safety rules to keep fireworks use safe and keep injuries down.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, anti-fireworks groups continue to misrepresent the truth about fireworks-related injuries. The facts cannot be disputed. Fireworks-related injuries have decreased at a time when fireworks use has significantly increased.

We Americans have celebrated our heritage of freedom with fireworks since 1776 when then-future President John Adams suggested in a letter to his wife, Abigail, that Independence Day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade . . . bonfires and illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

The New York State Legislature should reconsider the outdated consumer fireworks laws. Citizens should support the right to celebrate freedom with fireworks in the spirit of Adams, and the sensible and regulated use of consumer fireworks. Please enjoy the Independence Day holiday with your family and celebrate safely.

William A. Weimer is vice president of Phantom Fireworks, headquartered in Ohio. New York law specifically prohibits consumer fireworks including firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, bombs and sparklers. Only limited novelty items are legal without permits.

By William A. Weimer


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