Oxendine Speaks on "Toy Car" Lighter

All these "toy" cars look alike...
All these "toy" cars look alike...
...but one hides a lighter.
...but one hides a lighter.

It's a story that's grabbing attention across the state: cigarette lighters that look like Matchbox cars. WTOC broke the story on THE News at 5 on Monday, showing you how dangerous they could be, and today we spoke with the company that makes these lighters and Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

"It's just total irresponsibility that this individual would sell a Matchbox-looking lighter," he said. "When I saw this, I couldn't believe, but I instantly called my assistant fire marshal and said, 'Is this true? Can you do this? Are these things available?' And it appears that they definitely are. I then instructed my staff to immediately start meeting with the Georgia Firefighters Association and the Georgia Fire Chiefs Association, and we're going to look to see what things can be done."

Oxendine says these lighters simply have no place in stores, or at the very least, they belong out of the reach of young hands.

"There's no reason anybody should be making a lighter out of this, without a child-safety device," he said. "Child safety devices are very inexpensive."

But Tommy Wong, the owner of the company that makes the lighter, Zreative Product, Inc., says these lighters are made for adults.

"This type of lighter is a novelty lighter," Wong said. "Right now, people collect lighters, so they don't want regular, Zippo look-alike lighters."

"He just sees dollar signs," Oxendine told us. "And I think we need to be more concerned about our families and about our children."

And Jane Garrison, of Safe Kids Savannah, says she cannot believe someone would market a product like this.

"A child would see that, have no idea it was a lighter," she said. "And again, it is child resistant, not child proof, which means that a child could potentially injure themselves."

"I'm really glad WTOC brought this to my attention," said Oxendine. "I still would not know about it had I not heard about it from WTOC. When I saw how realistic these are, and that it looks just like a Hot Wheels car, or any other kind of Matchbox car, clearly they're trying to sell lighters to young children."

Tommy Wong says he spent $20,000 to have the lighters tested, but under federal law, the testing only has to apply to children under four.

Advanced Auto Parts, the store that sells these lighters, is planning to take a deeper look the sale of these lighters according to a faxed statement we received from them today.

Reported by: Ryan Young, ryoung@wtoc.com