Can you imagine New Year’s Eve without the fireworks? It would never work. Fireworks are such a key part of the festivities. Different European countries may have different New Year’s Eve traditions (such as eating twelve grapes, or singing Auld Lang Syne) but firework displays at midnight are almost universal.
Which is not to say, however, that overly-enthusiastic citizens should be able to set up their own unregulated firework display in the street. Most European countries already restrict powerful fireworks to regulated public displays set up by professionals. Some countries, such as Ireland, only allow the least-dangerous fireworks for sale to the general public.
Each New Year’s Eve, there are thousands of firework-related injuries across Europe. This year, a Dutch father and his 4-year-old-son were killed when fireworks started a fire in an apartment building. Support for a partial ban on consumer fireworks is growing in the Netherlands (with the Dutch Health Minister saying “I always enjoy fireworks a lot myself, but when I see police car after police car driving by, I think: this is a tradition that needs to change.”).
In the UK, a petition to ban fireworks for general sale to the public has reached over 300,000 signatures. A similar number signed a petition in Australia to cancel the New Year’s Eve firework display in Sydney, in the wake of the bushfires that have been raging since September 2019.
Critics of a ban, however, argue that it would be ineffective. Banning the public sale of fireworks would fuel a black market in illegal fireworks, they say, possibly resulting in even more injuries because it would be completely unregulated.
Should fireworks be banned for private use? Should their sale be restricted to professionals for regulated public displays? Or would that just fuel a black market in illegal fireworks? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!