Top British surgeons have called for fireworks to be sold in cigarette-style packaging, with graphic images of life-changing burns and injuries.
The British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) even said sparklers should be sold in plain packaging with clearer warnings.
The president of BAPRAS claimed severe firework injuries are similar to those seen in a ‘war zone’, with hands blown apart, people blinded and left severely disfigured.
But critics have hit back at suggestion, saying it would be wrong for the government ‘to suck the fun out them by plastering them with gruesome photos’.
The warning comes just days before Bonfire night, when tens of thousands of adults will buy their own fireworks for displays in their gardens.
Officials have been slammed for failing to close in on the market, which is able to get away with selling fireworks looking like ‘toys’.
Some 2,000 people were rushed to A&E in 2018-2019 after a firework accident, NHS figures show, 30 per cent of which are children.
British surgeons have called for fireworks to be sold in cigarette-style packaging with a graphic image of burn injuries. A prototype is pictured
President of BAPRAS said: ‘Although packaged as toys, these are serious explosives, and the types of reconstructive surgery being required would not be out of place in a war zone’
The Government has been slammed for failing to close in on the market which are able to get away with selling fireworks looking like ‘toys’ (pictured)
Last week, doctors told the tale of a 30-year-old man whose hand was split in two after a lit firework exploded before he could throw it at a party
BAPRAS, the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH) and the British Burn Association (BBA) said reconstructive surgery is both costly and complex.
David Newington, president of BSSH, said: ‘Hand surgeons see devastating injuries caused by fireworks throughout the winter months, with people often losing large portions of their hand.
‘Providing warnings on all firework packaging would serve as a graphic reminder of the severe yet avoidable damage they can cause.
‘Even sparklers – which are often thought of as safe – can present a significant risk unless used carefully, as they burn at such a high temperature.’
BAPRAS has been spearheading a campaign to change packaging since last November, but is still fighting for policy changes.
There has been a positive shift towards responsible advertising of other products which are deemed a risk to health, such as junk food and cigarettes.
However, fireworks are still sold in bright, colourful packaging with warnings buried in tiny text inside.
Mark Henley, president of BAPRAS, said: ‘Another year has now passed and the Government has failed to take appropriate action to reduce the number of children and young adults who sustain life-changing injuries from the misuse of fireworks.
‘Although packaged as toys, these are serious explosives, and the types of reconstructive surgery being required would not be out of place in a war zone.’
A total of 4,436 individuals attended A&E because of an injury caused by a firework in 2017-2018, a figure that has more than doubled from 2,141 in 2009-10.
However, last year just 1,936 people visited A&E due to injuries caused by fireworks, which BAPRAS believe is due to campaigning.
The Institute of Economic Affairs said plain packaging is the wrong way to slash injury rates. Pictured, firework packagaing
Northern Ireland introduced legislation in 2002 requiring an individual to have a licence to buy fireworks. Injuries dramatically dropped by 72 per cent in one year.
But Alastair Brown, consultant plastic surgeon at the Ulster Hospital, Belfast, said there are still too many devastating life-changing injuries.
He said: ‘These can have profound effects with respect to function and appearance and the associated psychological implications.
‘Such injuries are avoidable… The real dangers of inappropriate use must be highlighted to the public and this could include graphic warnings on packaging.’
However, the Institute of Economic Affairs said plain packaging is the wrong way to slash injury rates.
Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle Economics at the IEA, said: ‘Injuries from fireworks are a serious issue.
‘But it’s important to teach people how to use them safely rather than deterring them from buying them at all.
‘Plain packaging hasn’t made any difference to cigarette sales and it is unlikely to make a difference to firework sales.
‘Fireworks come with appropriate warnings and can only be sold to people aged 18 and over.
‘Although accidents happen, the vast majority of fireworks are used responsibly and it would be wrong for the government to suck the fun out them by plastering them with gruesome photos.’
DRUNK MAN’S HAND SPLIT IN TWO BY FIREWORK
A drunk carpenter’s hand was ripped in half after a lit firework exploded before he could toss it at a party.
The 30-year-old was rushed to A&E with his hand severed in two and a ‘degloved’ middle finger, meaning the skin had been completely torn off.
His ring and little finger were broken and his index finger had been ripped out of its socket during the blast.
The huge gash had become infected by the time he made it to hospital, doctors revealed in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Case Reports.
The man, who is thought to be British, had to have his right hand sewn back together and was left with four fingers following the horrendous accident.
Doctors fear he may never be able to carve wood again. He still struggles to flex his fingers to this day, four months after the blast.
They hope the anonymous case will serve as a stark reminder about the dangers of handling fireworks ahead of Guy Fawkes Night in the UK on November 5.
The unidentified patient was rushed to A&E with his hand severed in two and a ‘degloved’ middle finger, meaning the skin had been completely torn off
The carpenter, who is thought to be British, had to have his right hand sewn back together and was left with four fingers following the horrendous accident (shown four months after surgery)