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<div> <P>Hooligans watch out - this year's firework safety campaign is aimed at you and your dangerous and anti-social behaviour!</P> <P>This is the message from Nigel Griffiths, Consumer Affairs Minister who today announces the toughest so far crackdown on dangerous firework and firework misuse.</P> <P>During the launch of this year's Firework Safety Campaign, the Minister spoke about the thrust of the campaign and the purpose of recent changes to the law:</P> <P>"Firework injuries are far to high. Hooliganism alone put 380 people in hospital last year - that was 30 per cent of all firework injuries. When I became Consumer Affairs Minister I made it a priority to protect consumers and to take decisive action against the problem of dangerous fireworks and firework hooliganism.</P> <P>"Our new Parliamentary Regulations come into effect at midnight. They will have the twofold effect of improving consumer safety and of banning certain fireworks which are favourites with hooligans.</P> <P>"Retailers will be banned from splitting boxes and packs to sell off the contents individually.</P> <P>"The minimum age of persons who can be sold fireworks will be increased from 16 to 18 from midnight tonight.</P> <P>"Large bangers, flash-bangers, Chinese crackers and fireworks with erratic flight will all be banned.</P> <P>"Aerial shells, 'maroons' and other large fireworks are banned from sale to the public - these include the type that killed David Hattersley and Steve Timcke last year.</P> <P>"All fireworks intended for public use will have to comply with British Standard BS7114.</P> <P>"Six million leaflets for consumers and 100,000 information packs have been distributed to shopkeepers, schools and youth centres. Demand from shops has been so high that thousands of extra packs have been reprinted."</P> <P>Mr Griffiths said he had invited retailers to join his crusade by keeping fireworks out of the hands of would-be hooligans. He reminded them that they faced prosecution if they failed to observe the law.</P> <P>Describing this year's campaign, the Minister said:</P> <P>"I am today launching a high profile publicity campaign. We have produced over six million leaflets to convey attractively packaged advice for those using fireworks at home, organising public displays or selling fireworks. There are also four new TV ads starring Neil Morrissey and his son.</P> <P>"Two of the ads take as their theme Fireworks and Alcohol don't Mix and Don't give sparklers to children under 5. These are the messages I shall be doing my best to promote nearer to Bonfire Night itself.</P> <P>"But with fireworks officially on sale tomorrow, the focus of our publicity in the next two weeks will be on discouraging hooliganism, the mis-use and throwing of fireworks, thus reinforcing our legislative effort.</P> <P>"It is already illegal to let off fireworks in the street - the offence carries a &amp;pound;5000 fine. In tightening the law I have, for the sake of public safety, concentrated on choking off the supply and eliminating the fireworks most likely to cause injury."</P> <P>The Minister announced that he was mounting a concentrated publicity effort in the four cities with the worst record for hooligan related injuries, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.</P> <P>Because of the high proportion of such injuries in Scotland, Glasgow was also being targeted. The publicity will include a hard hitting cinema advertisement to be shown throughout the firework sale period which coincides with school half-term. The target of these ads are boys aged from 10-15. The Minister will visit all five cities.</P> <P>TV Gladiators Cobra, Hunter and Rhino will visit 40 secondary schools in the target cities. They will be joined by fire officers and police who will ram home the risks - physical and legal - of misbehaving with fireworks.</P> <P>Mr Griffiths continued: "The safety experts at the DTI have worked flat out to get these measures through for this bonfire season. It has meant compressing the consultation period to only two months, with legislation being passed as quickly after this as possible.</P> <P>"Any importer, manufacturer or retailer attempting to block this legislation would have delayed implementation until next year. For this reason it was agreed to allow stocks of non-dangerous, but nuisance fireworks to be used up. This averted any court action which would have delayed our crackdown this year."</P> <P>Notes to editors</P> <P>1. Changes to the law coming into force on October 15, 1997:</P> <UL> <LI>a requirement that fireworks intended for the public must comply with BS7114;</LI> <LI>a permanent ban on the supply to the public of category 3 bangers (including flash- bangers and Chinese Crackers) and fireworks with erratic flight;</LI> <LI>increase the minimum age of persons who can be supplied with fireworks to 18 years (supply of caps, cracker snap, novelty matches, party poppers, serpents or throwdowns to be exempt from change and remain subject to minimum age of 16);</LI> <LI>a prohibition on retailers splitting retail boxes of fireworks (i.e. boxes pre-packed by the original supplier and intended to be sold complete);</LI> </UL> <P>2. Changes to come into effect on 31 December 1997:</P> <UL> <LI>a prohibition on the supply to the public of category 2 bangers (all 'bangers' will then be covered);</LI> <LI>a prohibition on the supply of mini-rockets except for the purpose of special effects in the theatre, film and television;</LI> <LI>imposition of size limits for supply to the public of certain fireworks which have not previously been subject to such controls (including Roman Candles, mines, batteries (e.g. a cake of Roman Candles), wheels and combinations);</LI> <LI>a requirement for sparklers to carry an additional warning - 'Not to be given to children under five years of age';</LI> <LI>a requirement for all fireworks not suitable (as defined in the Regulations) for use by the general public to bear a warning to that effect.</LI> </div>

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