Don't Flick Your Bic Past the Airport Checkpoint

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that all lighters will be prohibited from sterile areas of airports and onboard aircraft.

The action is in response to a provision in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 17, 2004, and requires that "butane" lighters be added to TSA's Prohibited Items List.

After carefully evaluating the security threat, 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 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 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.

Further, 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.

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