The war on terror is making an American flame sputter.
Zippo Manufacturing Co., which prides itself on its classic brass-and-chrome lighters, says new air travel security regulations could cut into sales by as much as 30 percent.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has announced it will ban butane, electric and absorbed fuel lighters aboard all aircraft and in areas behind airport security gates beginning in April.
Such lighters were already banned in checked baggage, but passengers previously had been allowed to have two lighters in their carry-on luggage.
Zippo officials will meet with federal officials later this month to plead their case. Millions of the metal, rectangular lighters are bought on impulse at duty-free shops and at vacation spots as mementos.
The travel restrictions are unlikely to affect any other lighter company as drastically as they will Zippo, the company said.
The company makes all its absorbed fuel lighters lighters in Bradford, a town of about 9,500 in northwestern Pennsylvania. The company sold 14 million of them last year, said Greg Booth, president and chief executive.
“This really has the potential to hurt our business,” Booth said.
The ban on lighters in the cabin is logical, Zippo officials said, but they are upset at Zippo’s “hazardous” classification by the transportation department for checked baggage.
Zippo lighters have passed stringent standards for both the American Society for Testing Materials and those of the International Standards Organization, Booth said, meaning the lighters have been classified as nonhazardous.
Joe Delcambre, spokesman for the transportation department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said the ignition source on such lighters is too close to flammable materials to be allowed in cargo holds.
That separates Zippo from other items allowed in airline cargo holds that might be considered dangerous, including ammunition, firearms and spear guns.