The minister is particularly concerned that in some cases illegal and dangerous laser pens are being marketed and sold to children as toys. In her letter to the lead officer for toy safety, she proposes that a warning notice be circulated to all Trading Standards offices highlighting the dangers and that officers work with the police to bring more criminal prosecutions against those who intentionally place unsafe products on the market.
The law states that laser pens with a strength of more than 1 milliwatt (mW) are illegal to sell to the general public because of the damage they can cause if shone in a person’s eye.
Business Minister Anna Soubry says in her letter:
You will be aware of recent media reports of young children and teenagers that have suffered permanent eye damage from having laser pens shone directly at their eyes, whether intentionally or not. I have been made aware of at least 159 such incidents since 2013 and I understand the number is increasing year-on-year.
Laser pens under 1 milliwatt are safe and legal, but it has come to my attention that some importers and retailers appear to be ignoring the legislation and many of the products available in the UK are considerably over this limit.
I am particularly concerned where these are clearly being marketed at children, for example on market stalls and at school fairs.
I hope you agree with me that urgent action must be taken to stop this from happening. I believe your experience and expertise on toy safety issues and safety campaigns makes you ideally placed to help.