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Pen Top Ban

Reading the news today I see the family of Ben Stirland who tragically died after choking to death on a pen lid back in January are now campaigning to get the pen lids banned.

His mother, Natalie Hodgeson says "Our initial and main aim is to get the pen lids banned", and "I won't give up until I see these banned".

Apparently there's no danger of stopping to gain a sense of perspective here. She states "I'm just trying to make sure that it doesn't happen again". Well, please, WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

Bic announced in 2005 that they had sold 100 billion of their classic Cristal ballpoint pen first introduced in 1950; an average of 5 million pens per day. That's just one brand of pen.

The British Standards Institute have just produced a new draft of their recommendations for holes in pen lids originally introduced 14 years ago.

The BSI said:

"The decision to revise the standards was made as a result of a five-year standard review that was due."

"There has not been any incidents of this nature since the original standard was brought in but the WIA (Writing Instruments Association) did make us aware of Mr and Mrs Hodgson's case."

That's well over 5 million pens with plastic caps sold every single day and there's one death in the UK in 14 years?

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that the following items are a risk to children:

Should we ban these too? How about cars? The US National Safety Council handily provides statistics of the odds of dying in an accident The odds of dying in a vehicle accident over the course of your lifetime are 1 in 84. "Inhalation and ingestion of other objects causing obstruction of respiratory tract" manages just 1 in 1248. You're 15 times more likely to die in a car accident than by swallowing any item, not limited to just pen tops. There's three times the chance of death through accidental exposure to drugs (1 in 490). Let's outlaw those as well!

I'm all for the BSI reviewing and improving their specifications from time to time to help prevent accidents of this nature, but banning something outright because of such a miniscule level of risk would be a victory for hysteria over common sense. I hope that doesn't turn out to be the case.


Contact: ben@spod.cx