AMCNO Opposes HB 226 – Fireworks Legislation

The AMCNO has joined other medical associations in providing written opponent testimony on House Bill 226 – Fireworks, which would legalize fireworks in Ohio.

HB 226, introduced on May 16, is sponsored by state Reps. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Martin Sweeney (D-Cleveland). If passed, the bill would allow several actions related to the purchase and sale of fireworks, including:

  • Allowing Ohioans to buy, possess and discharge 1.4g fireworks (consumer-grade products that includes bottle rockets, novelty missiles, and other explosive projectile devices) on their own property or others’ property with permission beginning July 2020;
  • Requiring sellers to give safety pamphlets to buyers;
  • Imposing a 4% fee on top of sales taxes to fund firefighter training and fireworks regulation;
  • Setting up a 13-member study committee (to have its first meeting no later than Sept. 30, 2017) to consider alternative regulations to recommend to the legislature, which would need to act upon any recommendations before July 1, 2020, for them to be in effect;
  • Extending the long-standing moratorium on licenses to manufacture and sell fireworks to 2020; and
  • Allowing counties, cities and some townships to either ban fireworks or restrict the times and dates they may be used.

Last year, an estimated 11,900 people nationwide were treated in an emergency room for a fireworks-related injury. This injury data used by the fireworks industry and public health advocates, however, only accounts for ER admissions and doesn’t capture injuries treated in  other settings—such as trauma centers, urgent care facilities and primary care offices—or injuries where a child or adult does not seek immediate treatment, so the number of injuries is likely more than that.  

As stated in the letter, the current prohibition on firework discharge is one of the last safeguards we have in place to protect Ohioans from injury and damage that can result from fireworks usage. Although it’s appreciated that retailers would be required to provide a pamphlet and safety glasses at the point of sale, half of fireworks injuries are to innocent bystanders, so it is unlikely that these safety measures will provide adequate protection.

The AMCNO has been a long-time member of the Ohio Fireworks Safety Advocates Coalition, which was established to educate the public about the dangers of consumer use of fireworks, and we also opposed similar legislation to HB 226 in the last General Assembly. We will continue to monitor this issue and provide a report to our members.

The Pollen Line is now closed. See you in the spring!

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