2007-11-23 / Community

Pheffer Hosts Hearing On Child Product Safety

Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee Chair Audrey Pheffer, and Subcommittee on Child Product Safety Chair Ginny Fields, cosponsored a public hearing on November 1 in New York City that examined various toy safety issues, including the adequacy of the consumer product recall system and how the State can best protect children from hazardous toys.

Several major toy manufacturers have issued significant recalls of children's toys in recent months, including the recall of over ten million toys coated with paints containing excessive levels of lead and thousands of toys containing magnets, which can become dislodged and, if found by a child, swallowed or aspirated.

"This hearing brought together government representatives, toy safety advocates, industry representatives, and medical professionals to discuss this important consumer issue," said Pheffer. "These participants provided the Committees with the necessary background information to allow us to analyze the toy safety legislation that has been proposed and consider the need for any additional legislation on this important consumer issue."

A number of bills introduced in the Assembly related to toy safety were discussed, including legislation seeking to regulate the manufacture and sale of certain toys (A.332, A.333, A.472, and A.5614) and legislation related to consumer product recalls (A.8440 and A.6865).

"The Public Hearing on Toy Safety was an opportunity to hear from many experts and professionals in the field which provided excellent enlightenment to the elected officials. We will now be able to improve pending legislation and/or create new legislation that will act to protect the children of New York State," said Fields (D-Suffolk).

Mindy Bockstein, Chairwoman and Executive Director of the State Consumer Protection Board, testified on the Board's response to the recent increase in the recall of toys, including its toy testing initiatives, direct outreach to retailers, secondhand and thrift stores and Internet auction sites, and public awareness campaigns.

Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children's product safety, highlighted several weaknesses in the existing consumer product recall system identified by her organization and advocated for the enactment of the Children's Product Safety Act (A.6865) sponsored by Assemblywoman Fields.

Dr. Andrew Racine, Vice President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, NY Chapter 3, testified on the health effects of lead exposure and the danger magnetic toys pose to children.

The Committees also received useful testimony on this important issue from the Toy Industry Association, Inc., Retail Council of New York State, American Chemistry Council, New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Empire State Consumer Association, Toys "R" Us, Inc., representatives of the product testing and product standards industry, and affected consumers.

The hearing marked a successful dialogue on advancing toy safety. The committees plan to continue the dialogue with government, consumer and industry participants.

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