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TSA adds lighters to list of items banned beyond airport checkpoints

Date Posted: 2005-03-11

Smokers will find their opportunities for a last puff before boarding the plane more limited at U.S. airports beginning next month.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a directive that all lighters will be prohibited from sterile areas of airports and onboard aircraft, a response to a provision in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The bill, signed into law by the President last December 17th, requires that “butane" lighters be added to TSA's Prohibited Items List.

After carefully evaluating the security threat, Congressional intent and operational considerations, TSA determined that passengers should be prohibited from carrying all lighters on their person or in carry-on luggage in the sterile areas of airports or onboard an airplane. The policy will be fully enforced beginning April 14, 2005.

"TSA is moving quickly to implement this provision passed by Congress," said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. "By creating policy to add lighters to the Prohibited Items List we are closing a potential vulnerability in air travel security."

The agency also acknowledged the role passengers play in making the security process go more smoothly. "Travelers are a valuable partner in the screening process," said Rear Adm. Stone. "If they pack smart and avoid bringing lighters to the checkpoint, passengers can accelerate the screening process and allow us to focus on those individuals and items that may be a threat to their flight."

All lighters will be banned from sterile areas beyond security checkpoints at airports. This includes, for example, butane, absorbed-fuel (Zippo-type), electric/battery-powered and novelty lighters. The Department of Transportation classifies lighters as hazardous materials, and prohibits them from being stowed in checked baggage. TSA will dispose of lighters brought to checkpoints. Passengers at some airports may be able to ship them via a private company for a fee, but TSA strongly urges passengers to thoroughly inspect their carry-on and checked baggage for these items before going to the airport.

TSA's mission includes preventing air piracy and use of an airplane as a weapon. TSA prohibits items that may be used to that end from being carried aboard an airplane. The lighter ban will fulfill Congress' intent as expressed in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act and reduce security vulnerabilities, providing one more layer of security for the nation's travelers.

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