Irresponsible use of fireworks should be as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, say MPs
Ministers must do more to make the "inconsiderate and irresponsible" use of fireworks as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, MPs have said.
A report by the Petitions Committee called for tougher regulations in a bid to reduce the distress they cause to animals, people with health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and small children.
Their findings were published to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night, when fireworks will be used across the country.
Around 750,000 people have signed petitions to the committee calling for a crackdown on the way fireworks are sold to the public.
However, the cross-party committee stopped short of calling for an outright ban, saying such a move could have unintended consequences for community groups raising money for charity, as well as boosting the sale of dangerous explosives on the black market.
Their report said: "Inconsiderate and irresponsible use of fireworks should be considered as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
"There is very clear evidence that loud, unexpected noise from fireworks has severe and distressing effects on people with a range of health conditions and disabilities."
It called on the Government to "fund and co-ordinate major, national awareness campaigns" from October next year on the responsible use of fireworks to get the message across to the public.
Petitions Committee chair Helen Jones said: “Our inquiry has shone a light on the troubling human impact of failing to regulate the fireworks industry effectively.
“From affecting the mental health of veterans, to harming animal welfare, and even threatening the health of young children, the consequences are widespread.
"It is not good enough for the Government to repeatedly claim that the law protects these people and animals from harm. It does not. Now is the time for action, not apathy.
She added: “While we do not support a ban on public sales and use of fireworks, further failure to act from the Government and agencies could mean that a ban becomes the only option.”
Animal charity the RSPCA welcomed the findings but said the report could have gone further by limiting the public sale and use of fireworks in the lead-up to 5 November, 31 December, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
RSPCA government relations manager Claire McParland said: “We would, however, like to see more regulation so that there is tighter restriction on the sale of fireworks to the public and on the use of fireworks, alongside a campaign that raises awareness of the impact of fireworks on all animals - pets, farm animals, horses and wildlife, and educates people about available treatment for fireworks phobia in some species.
“We see the impact of fireworks on animals every year and with more than 750,000 people signing petitions to restrict their use in recent years, we know there is strong public feeling surrounding the issue of fireworks.”
A spokesperson for the Business department said: “We want to make sure everyone can enjoy fireworks in safety.
"That’s exactly why the Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is already gathering information on the noise, disturbance and anti-social behaviour that can be associated with fireworks, and the impact on people, animals and our environment.
"This will be used to inform future laws around firework safety.”