Most states with a legal smoking age of 21 still have a purchase age of 18 years old to buy a lighter. But this rule has some variations, exceptions, and nuances that you should be aware of if you want the functionality of a lighter. (Hint: Matches have no age restrictions for buying them.) Read on for the details.
Have you ever gone out to buy a lighter, only to be stumped when you realize you didn’t bring your ID? It happens to the best of us.
It can be difficult to remember that some items are age-restricted, even if they do not involve recreational substances like alcohol or nicotine.
Even if you do know the law, it may not make sense. Age restrictions can sometimes seem arbitrary and fickle, especially when they vary state by state.
Why Is There a Legal Age To Buy a Lighter?
There are a lot of life milestones that everyone looks forward to your driver’s license eligibility, your right to vote, your first legal drink, and more. Not everyone looks forward to turning 18 and buying their first lighter.
However, many states choose to prohibit the sale of lighters to people under 18. This is usually due to the fact that lighters are often used to smoke tobacco or cannabis, which are age-restricted products.
What to Consider When Buying a Lighter
When purchasing a lighter, always bring your ID, even if you aren’t sure of the law. Age restriction laws can change rapidly, and some stores may have their own policies as well.
For (legal) smoking, it is best to purchase a small lighter that you can use with one hand, such as a spark-ignition lighter or a zippo lighter.
For lighting a pilot light or candle, a long campfire lighter is the best choice.
If you live in a state where cannabis products are legal, you should choose a butane torch lighter for safely consuming THC wax.
Where to Buy a Lighter
You can buy lighters at regular corner stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, or gas stations. Those stores should be able to handle all of your typically household lighter needs.
However, if you are looking for a more specialized type of lighter, you should visit a specialty store or buy a Zippo lighter online. For a high-quality smoking lighter, visit a tobacco accessory shop. For a great campfire lighter, visit a camping supply store.
If you are searching for a butane torch, you may have limited options. Some chain stores, like pharmacies, choose not to carry butane torches because they are riskier to use than other types of lighters.
When in doubt, call ahead to figure out which store has exactly what you need.
Can You Buy a Lighter Without ID?
ID laws for lighters depend on the state you’re in. In Virginia, for example, there are age restrictions on only some types of lighters.
It is illegal in Virginia to sell “novelty lighters” to people under 18 years old. A novelty lighter is a lighter with a fun design, special shape, or lights up or makes noises.
These lights cannot be sold to people under 18 because the government of Virginia believes they will appeal too strongly to children.
However, you can purchase a plain or a campfire lighter without ID in Virginia.
Each state should have its most up-to-date laws listed clearly on an official government website.
Can You Buy Matches Without ID?
If you forgot your ID, you can always buy a book or box of matches. Matches are typically not age-restricted. This is because matches are usually used for lighting candles and other non-smoking-related purposes.
Matches are, of course, not ideal for all purposes. To keep your options open, make sure you are over 18 and have your ID when searching for a fire source.
Is a Photocopy or Picture of Your ID Enough?
Picture this: at the counter of your local gas station; you realize you have forgotten your ID. Can you show the cashier a picture of your ID to purchase a lighter?
Legally, you cannot. Without the ability to physically hold your ID, the cashier cannot vouch for its authenticity.
If something bad happened to you while using that lighter, the cashier or store you bought it from could be held responsible.
This is also how alcohol ID laws work. Though the chances are slimmer of something bad happening to you after purchasing a lighter, the stores that sell them still have to be careful.
Do Laws Always Line Up With Smoking Laws?
In recent years, some states have changed their smoking age laws. For example, Pennsylvania recently raised its legal smoking age to 21.
However, this does not mean that you have to be 21 to buy a lighter in Pennsylvania.
Most states with a legal smoking age of 21 still have a purchase age of 18. Because there is no way to prove that you will use it to smoke, these restrictions tend to be lighter.
Plus, in cases like the state of Virginia, the laws obviously do not line up. People under 18 can buy some types of lighters in Virginia, but they cannot buy cigarettes.
Some states do require you to be 21 years old to buy one.
However, some states make exceptions to their smoking age laws for people at least 18 years of age in the military. These exceptions usually also apply to lighter purchase laws.
Get Yourself a Great Lighter Today
Now that you know all about lighter purchase laws get out there and buy the perfect fire-starter. Take our advice and find the perfect device to suit your needs.
If you’re curious, learn more about important age milestones. There are lots of interesting age laws that most people don’t know about!