It wouldn’t be a money boom, but Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering increasing fireworks sales as a way to help cover the cost of the state budget.
Part of the revenue package passed by the Senate last week would allow residents to buy most consumer fireworks, such as Roman candles, bottled rockets and firecrackers.
The bill has yet to be approved by the House and Governor Tom Wolf to enter into force.
Last year, around $ 350 million in fireworks, the type used by professional companies for municipal shows, were sold nationwide, compared with more than $ 800 million in grand fireworks. public, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.
According to the Morning Call, allowing the sale of mid-grade fireworks would add about $ 3 million in taxes during the fiscal year, though the state is expected to spend about $ 32 billion over that time.
Currently, Pennsylvanians can only purchase sparkling ground and portable devices and novelties.
While most fireworks sold fall into the consumer category, according to Bill Weimer, vice president and general counsel for Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks, about 45% of fireworks-related injuries are caused by fireworks. professional quality, homemade or illegal fireworks.
The change in law would not affect sales of display-grade fireworks, which require a license from the Ministry of Agriculture to purchase.
Weimer said the proposed change comes at a time when fireworks-related injuries are declining and products are becoming safer overall.
“Are they safe? Well, they’re safer than alcohol, safer than guns, and definitely a lot safer than cars, ”Weimer said.
In 1994, more than 117 million pounds of fireworks were imported to the United States, which almost all buys from China, Weimer said. That year, there were about 12,500 fireworks-related injuries – mostly burns – or about 10.7 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks sold.
Fast forward to last year, the most recent year for which data is available, when Americans imported nearly 269 million pounds of fireworks, an increase of over 100% from to 1994.
However, despite increased availability, the rate of fireworks-related injuries has declined, with approximately 11,100 injuries reported. This equates to approximately 4.14 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks used.
Weimer cites industry safety standards as the reason for the reduction in injuries. In recent years, fireworks have been made with little standardization, making them less than reliable, Weimer said.
“In 1989, a group of seven consumer fireworks companies – Phantom was one of them – got together in China and tested the products. At this point, the fireworks entering the country were very erratic, ”Weimer said. “They came to the conclusion that they had to master the quality of the fireworks entering the country.”
The American Fireworks Standards Laboratory is the result. This agency tests imported fireworks against a set of standards developed in-house. Fireworks that do not pass cannot be imported.
Despite increased safety standards, injuries do occur, said Dr Ariel Aballay, medical director of the West Penn Burn Center. He said fireworks are generally not to blame.
“It’s not the fireworks that is necessarily flawed,” he said. “It’s not a question of the fireworks itself that is dangerous, but what people do when they play with fireworks. ”
Aballay said injuries from fireworks are still prevalent and increased access to more powerful explosives could ultimately lead to more injuries.
“I think allowing everyone to have more dangerous fireworks would potentially lead to an increase in injuries,” he said.
Matthew Medsger is an editor for Tribune-Review. Contact him at 724-226-4675, [email protected] or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.