Reps. Kelly, Arrington, Lieu Introduce Reese’s Law to Prevent Button Battery Ingestion
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) today introduced Reese’s Law, bipartisan legislation to protect children from ingesting button cell batteries. The Members were joined for a press conference to announce the bill by Trista Hamsmith, Founder of Reese’s Purpose and mother of Reese Hamsmith, an 18-month-old child who tragically passed away after ingesting a button cell battery.
“Button batteries are included in many children’s toys, remotes and other household items that children have access to every day. If ingested, these batteries cause serious injuries that often become fatal,” said Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-02). “As a grandmother, I want to do everything I can to protect children from accidental death. That’s why I’m introducing Reese’s Law to prevent children from swallowing these batteries. This bill will direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create stronger safety standards for the packaging and products these batteries come in. I want to thank Trista Hamsmith, her family and everyone at Reese’s Purpose for their continued advocacy on behalf of other families and children. Because of their work, Reese’s Law will save lives.”
“As a parent, I cannot imagine the heartbreak that the Hamsmith family has endured since losing baby Reese last December,” said Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19). “As a Member of Congress, I believe the most important responsibility of our government is the safety and security of our citizens. Each year, thousands of toddlers are rushed to the hospital after accidental battery ingestions. The Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledges the urgent nature of this issue, yet they could take 3-5 years to pass stricter safety standards. Reese’s Law will guarantee within one year that button batteries have clear warning labels, child-resistant packaging, and secure placement in products. I am proud of my constituent, Trista Hamsmith, who has been a mother on a mission to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families and I’m glad to join Rep. Robin Kelly in leading on this important issue.”
“It is absolutely heart-wrenching to hear the stories of Trista Hamsmith and so many others, including a mother from my own congressional district, whose children have tragically lost their lives or become severely injured after accidentally ingesting button batteries,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33). “It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Today I’m honored to lift up the voices of these families as we introduce Reese’s Law, bipartisan legislation to direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create safety standards that prevent the ingestion of button batteries by children six and younger. These fatal accidents are preventable – and as Members of Congress, it is our duty to do everything in our power to stop this from happening to one more bright-eyed child. I am grateful to Representatives Kelly and Arrington for their work on this commonsense legislation and commend each and every brave parent who has turned their sorrow into action to protect other families.”
“Shortly after Reese passed, a friend reached out asking what could be done for our family. Without hesitation I told her we needed law changes,” said Trista Hamsmith, Founder of Reese’s Purpose and mother of Reese Hamsmith. “We had to protect other children from this. There was a plaque under the Christmas tree in Reese’s hospital room that read, ‘He has a plan and I have a purpose.’ I always knew Reese would do big things. That phone call was the start of our nonprofit, Reese’s Purpose, and our journey to bringing this law to life. With this bill, we protect all the children who can’t - and shouldn’t have to - protect themselves.”
Button and coin batteries pose a dangerous risk to young children and infants, but products with these batteries lack proper safety standards. Swallowing button batteries can cause serious injuries for some children, especially if the battery becomes lodged in the esophagus.
This legislation, named in honor of Reese Hamsmith, will direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to create safety standards that prevent accidental ingestion of button battries by children ages six and younger.
Reese’s Law will require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to:
- Create performance standards requiring the compartments of a consumer product containing button cell or coin batteries to be secured in order to prevent access by children who are six years of age or younger;
- Require warning labels in literature accompanying the product, on the packaging, and directly on the product when practical so it is visible;
- Require warning labels to clearly identify the hazard of ingestion;
- Require warning labels that instruct consumers to keep new and used batteries out of the reach of children, and to seek immediate medical attention is a battery is ingested.
This legislation is endorsed by: The American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Reports, Kids In Danger (KID), and the Consumer Federation of America.
“It’s far too easy for children to access these batteries in a wide range of products, and if they swallow them, they can be seriously injured or even killed,” said Oriene Shin, Policy Counsel for Consumer Reports.“The recent spike in injuries makes it clearer than ever: the status quo is failing children and their parents across the country. We urgently need a strong law on the books that will force companies to put safety first. Every member of Congress should support and vote to pass Reese’s Law, and help keep children safe from this preventable harm.”
"I applaud Congresswoman Kelly and Congressman Arrington for introducing Reese's Law which would create safety standards for button cell batteries to reduce accidental ingestion by children," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of the nonprofit Kids In Danger (KID). "And also, Reese’s family for pushing for measures that come too late for Reese. At KID, we hear all too often about severe injuries and death when a child ingests one of these ubiquitous batteries, often with their parents unaware the battery was even accessible. The requirements for child resistant packaging and compartments, along with warnings are vital to keeping children safe."
“Button cell batteries pose serious and potentially fatal ingestion hazards to thousands of children each year,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “For far too long, effective solutions have not been implemented nor required to adequately protect children from this hidden hazard,” Weintraub continued. “We applaud Representatives Robin L. Kelly, Jodey Arrington and Ted Lieu for introducing Reese’s Law which will require strong standards that will prevent these serious hazards in the future. We look forward to working together to make this bill law.”
Photos from Tuesday’s press conference announcing the bill are available here.