These States Have the Toughest Fireworks Laws

The Fourth of July weekend is typically a grand celebration in the U.S., with barbecues and Star-Spangled Banner–themed events. For some, setting off your own fireworks on the holiday can feel as patriotic as you can get, but experts are warning that this year, fireworks may be hard to come by.

America's top fireworks retailer, Phantom Fireworks, warns that this year supply chains are low in the states where fireworks are legal. According to News Direct, personal fireworks sales surged in 2020, breaking records industry-wide.

Forty-six states and Washington, D.C., allow consumer fireworks of some kind, but each state has different regulations. So here is a list of the states that have the strictest laws against fireworks.

Massachusetts

Fireworks of any and all kinds are banned in the state of Massachusetts. According to a summary of the Massachusetts Fireworks Law MGL Chapter 148, S. 39, "It is illegal for private citizens to use, possess, or sell fireworks in Massachusetts, or to purchase them legally elsewhere and then transport them into the state."

The summary states that you cannot be arrested for possession, but you could be issued a fine and the confiscation of your fireworks is mandatory. And while you may not be able to put on a show yourself, the state of Massachusetts does permit fireworks displays by professionals that you can catch on the Fourth of July.

Ohio

Ohio has very strict laws on fireworks, as only the use of sparklers, trick and novelty items, and smoke devices are allowed. You must be 18 to purchase the approved items, and all other fireworks are banned.

The Ohio Department of Commerce wrote in a statement that first-time violations of the fireworks ban are considered first-degree misdemeanors, which can be punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

Recently, however, lawmakers in Ohio began working to allow commercial fireworks to be set off in the state, but that bill will not be passed in time for this year's Independence Day celebrations.

Illinois

Illinois' fireworks laws echo Ohio's, allowing for only things like sparklers, novelty items like snakes, smoke devices or trick noisemakers like "snappers." The list is updated annually by the fire marshal, and you must be 18 or older to purchase these as well.

Maine

In Maine, you have to be 21 years old or older to purchase fireworks, and the fireworks permitted in the state are described simply as "consumer fireworks items tested & certified by a 3rd party laboratory as conforming with [Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)] standards."

Fireworks that are banned in the state of Maine, however, include "missile type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, sky rockets, and bottle rockets."

Vermont

Vermont permits sparklers that are "less than 14 inches long with no more than 20 grams of pyrotechnic mixture," novelty sparkling items limited only to snakes, party poppers, glow worms, smoke devices, string poppers, or snappers, "with no more than 0.25 grains of explosive mixture, and that are in compliance with CPSC regulations."

The state of Vermont does not allow for any firecrackers, skyrockets, roman candles, torpedoes and other large explosives; and violation of any of the fireworks laws could result in a maximum fine of $2,000 or jail time for no more than 18 months, or both.

New Hampshire

In the state of New Hampshire, you have to be 21 to purchase the permitted fireworks, which includes aerial devices, cakes, roman candles, poppers, snakes, sparklers, or anything that has been approved by the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, or another third-party testing.

What is interesting to note is that among the kinds of fireworks banned in New Hampshire, any device that produces solely smoke is included.

New Hampshire also does note that some towns have created different bans against drinking while setting off permissible fireworks.

You can see a list of each state's fireworks laws here.

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Some states have more restrictions on purchasing and letting off fireworks than others. Abiove Fireworks are viewed for sale in Stevensville, Maryland, on June 29, ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday coming up on July 4. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images