Fireworks usage expected to skyrocket ahead of Fourth of July holiday due to change in law

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Fireworks sales legal in PA: Walter Perez reports on Action News at 4 p.m., June 25, 2018. (WPVI)

Setting off aerial fireworks in Pennsylvania without a permit is now allowed by law for the first time since 1939.

The change came last October when lawmakers in Harrisburg decided to legalize pyrotechnics.

Jeff Bell, Regional Manager for Phantom Fireworks, said he is certainly happy but the new law came with a hefty price tag.

"The taxes are one thing that we are unhappy with," said Bell. "We would like to see that at a lower rate of course."

Bell is talking about the 12 percent tax the new measure piles on top of the state's 6 percent sales tax.

In effect, that is an 18 percent tax on aerial fireworks.

But tax or no tax, Easton Fire Chief John Bast says this measure is irresponsible and dangerous.

The chief says, "A lot of the injuries [from fireworks accidents] aren't so much burn injuries but they are traumatic injuries," he said. "And when kids get a hold of them, or people are using them and they're drinking or under the influence, accidents are bound to happen."

But Bell said fireworks today are safer than ever before.

"You are more likely to be injured on a trampoline or an ATV than you are using fireworks correctly," he said.

Most of the people we spoke with in the Lehigh Valley Monday said they are OK with the new law, as long as the people lighting the fuses are responsible.

With that said, there is no shortage of regulations attached to the law.

For example, you must be 18 to purchase, you must be at least 150 feet away from an occupied building before setting them off and you cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when lighting the fuse, just to name three.
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