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Personal Injury

Petition fuels the call for ban on fireworks sales

Reading time: 2 mins 21 secs

Alice Sanderson, November 14, 2018

Fireworks celebrations on Bonfire Night and Diwali this year have once again raised arguments over the safety of selling fireworks to members of the public.

Diwali, which fell on 7th November -  only two days after Bonfire Night - has meant fireworks celebrations for some have continued for much longer than usual.

Growing concern

A petition to ban the sale of fireworks to the public and have them for licensed display only has generated over 280,000 signatures, suggesting that public concern is on the increase. And the news this year has again been littered with incidences of burns to people and damage, to property. In Liverpool a vicious assault on a homeless man left him with burns, while in Shrewsbury a neighbour’s firework party destroyed part of a woman’s home and garden.

Research by St Johns Ambulance in 2016 found that a third of parents and grandparents have witnessed an injury during celebrations on Bonfire Night.

‘Packaging should show injuries’

Senior doctors have called for firework packaging to include graphic images of injuries from fireworks to highlight their dangers.

This is also supported by Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick who says that: "There is an urgent need for government to introduce graphic warnings on firework packaging. The hope is that a graphic image of the potential dangers of misuse may stop someone in their tracks, preventing a possible life-changing injury."

A YouGov poll of over 2,000 adults, conducted in October, found that 62% believed graphic warnings should be introduced on fireworks packaging.

Currently fireworks are packaged in bright and bold colours, similar to children’s toys, and warnings are often only displayed on a small section on the back of packaging.

Almost 4,500 people attended A&E with fireworks injuries last year, which is double the numbers reported in 2009/10.  Half of those treated were under the age of 18.

Clearly firework injuries are increasing, despite repeat campaigns on their danger.

Are graphic warnings enough to decrease these figures?

Or is the petition more on track for the answer, and should fireworks only be allowed for licensed displays?

Comment

Andrew Cullwick, spokesperson for First4Lawyers, said: “The number of injuries to those under 18 shows that the law is not a deterrent to many, so would changing the law to allow only for licensed displays make it any better? It would certainly make it easier to police, but if they are willing to break the law now they are almost certainly going to do it when the law changes too.

It would seem that the solution, at least for now, is indeed to include graphic warnings on fireworks packaging. While the use of graphic images on cigarette packing has been shown not to work, fireworks are not an addiction, and as they lack any form of clear warning currently, it can only be a good thing to introduce these warnings.”