Sainsbury’s Decision to Ban Fireworks Backed by Pet Owners

By Samantha Barr

UK leading supermarket chain Sainsbury’s announces it will not sell fireworks in any of its 2,300 stores.

On 17 October, the UK supermarket chain announced it will not be selling any kind of fireworks this year, just 19 days before Guy Fawkes celebrations are due to take place.

They didn’t elaborate on how the decision was made or why but made clear that customers continue to choose from a range of seasonal products, such as glow sticks and light up spinning wands.

A wave of support welcoming the retailer’s decision can be found online headed by pet owners who hope for less distressed pets this Bonfire Night.

The RSPCA in recent surveys found ‘strong public support for action,’ with 76% of survey respondents agreeing that ‘fireworks should be restricted to traditional dates,’ while 85% said they thought public displays ‘should be licensed and advertised before taking place.’

Similarly, a petition was started online and gained over 300,000 signatures calling for the ‘ban of fireworks for general sale to the public.’

The requirement for this petition was 100,000 signatures and as a result, the Government had to consider and respond to the petition which they did, noting they have asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that had been raised and will also consider the findings of the Scottish Government consultation on fireworks and the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry on fireworks.

They believe this will ‘build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order for them to identify whether there is a problem, and what action, if any, is appropriate.’

The Scottish Government consultation went through 16,420 responses, finding ‘87% of those answering the question [14,285 responses], would welcome a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public in Scotland’ whilst ‘92% of those answering the question [15,106 responses], thought there should be more controls over how fireworks can be used in Scotland.’

The opinion on how to best deal with fireworks has always been divided as the noise and light not only affect pets and wildlife but also those who suffer from conditions such as PTSD, autism, epilepsy among others as well as young children.

Talking to ITV, veteran’s mental health charity Combat Stress said.

“Bonfire night can be an especially difficult time for many combat veterans with mental health issues, with the loud bangs, bright lights and strong smells from fireworks causing serious anguish.”

There is an argument for low noise or silent fireworks being the only pyrotechnics available for the public to buy, which retailers like ASDA and Morrisons have for sale alongside more traditional fireworks.

Others are calling for an outright ban as quieter fireworks still pollute the air, create smoke while posing problems to those who are light-sensitive and are still dangerous explosives.

In 2017-2018, 4,436 people visited A&E because of an injury caused by a firework according to the NHS.

Last year a group of leading plastic surgeons called on the Government to introduce more graphic warnings on the packaging of fireworks such as those found on cigarette packaging, as currently, warnings on fireworks are small and usually found on the back of the box.

David Ward, the president of BAPRAS (British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons) warned of the dangers fireworks pose.

“We are extremely concerned about the continued misuse of fireworks, particularly by those under the age of 18 away from organised events. Although packaged in a jovial, toy-like fashion, people forget that when using fireworks, they are handling explosives which can cause extremely serious injuries that may require extensive reconstructive surgery.”

For those wanting to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night whilst wanting to reduce their impact on animals and others, it is advised the public attends public firework displays which are also safer as those with first aid training will be on site.

As Parliament is closed due to the upcoming general election, there maybe a wait before hearing any news whether reforms surrounding the sale and use of fireworks will be introduced.

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