Light Bulb Ban Triggers ‘Panic Buying’

Let there be light . . .

Legislation outlawing ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the European Union has produced an unexpected wave of panicked buying as the ban takes effect.

And that could be a harbinger of things to come in the United States, which has also passed a law that will ban Thomas Edison’s trusty old invention.

Last year 100-watt incandescent bulbs were banned in the E.U., and on Sept. 1 it also became illegal to import or manufacture 75-watt bulbs. The move is intended to force Europeans to switch mostly to compact fluorescent lights (CPLs), which use less electricity.

In the United States, President George W. Bush in 2007 signed into law a bill ordering the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs beginning with the 100-watt bulb in 2012 and ending with the 40-watt light in 2014.

While CFLs do use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last far longer, they cost significantly more and some users claim they give off a “sickly light,” according to The Telegraph in Britain.

They also take longer to turn on, can flicker, and have even been blamed for giving people headaches and skin rashes.

And CFLs contain small amounts of highly toxic mercury, which creates problems for users when they break or need to be disposed of after they burn out.

So sales of CFLs have been disappointing — while demand for the incandescent bulbs has been soaring.

Packages of 75-watt bulbs have been flying off the shelves in Finland as “customers filled their closets, garages and attics with lighting supplies for the long term,” The Washington Times reported in an article headlined “Europe’s light-bulb socialism.”

“London’s Daily Mail gave away 25,000 100-watt bulbs as a prize in a January 2009 contest. Der Spiegel reported that German customers left hardware stores with carts jammed with enough incandescent bulbs to last 20 years.”

The Telegraph reported:

“The panic buying of light bulbs is expected to get worse when 60-watt bulbs are banned next year and all incandescent bulbs are phased out by 2012.”

But there is hope yet for those who oppose the ban, The Times disclosed. Two years ago, the minority party in New Zealand made canceling a planned ban a campaign issue. The party won national office, and overturned the ban.

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