New Jersey may lift the ban on certain fireworks
You could be purchasing and using fireworks legally in New Jersey by this Fourth of July — at least the non-exploding kind.
New Jersey is one of just three states that completely ban the sale and use of any fireworks. The Garden State would join the majority, however, with a proposed law that received a unanimous green light from a state Senate panel Monday.
Under the measure from state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, those aged 16 and older would be permitted to sell, possess, store and use "sparklers, snakes and glow worms, smoke devices, and trick noisemakers, including party poppers, snappers and drop pops."
These non-exploding, non-aerial fireworks could not be regulated by local governing bodies, the bill states.
"Lots and lots of people buy stuff in Pennsylvania and bring it over anyway — might as well let our economy have a little bit of a jump," Scutari told New Jersey 101.5.
Citing the American Pyrotechnics Association, Scutari said Americans spent nearly $755 million on fireworks during the Fourth of July season in 2015.
The measure, introduced in February, was advanced this week by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. If it were to complete the legislative process and get the governor's signature, the law would take effect immediately.
The New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association and the New Jersey Academy of Ophthamolology are opposed to the measure.
Dr. Donald Cinotti, who handles patients in Jersey City and Millburn, has seen a "tremendous amount" of fireworks injuries over the years. Even the mildest of fireworks, he said, can cause damage that may affect someone's sight for a lifetime.
"Sparklers can give you severe corneal burns, burns on the front surface of your eye," Cinotti said. "The poppers, if you're too close to them ... can do damage to the front part of the eye."
According to a memo from NJAO on fireworks safety, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's most recent fireworks report pointed to about 1,300 fireworks-related eye injuries in U.S. emergency rooms in 2014, up from 600 in 2012.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.