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NY Thrift Shops Told To Stop Selling Children's Clothing With Drawstrings

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It is clothing that in rare cases can kill.

New York banned or restricted the use of drawstrings in children's clothing more than a decade ago -- and the feds followed suit in recent years.

But as CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported Tuesday, you can still find "drawstring dangers" on store shelves.

It's a design touch that can be deadly. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says 26 children died between 1985 and 2011 after drawstrings became caught on something, causing victims to be dragged or choked.

"I could see that being a choking hazard for around the neck and I could see around the waist that getting caught on something and dragging them down, so I definitely understand the concern," parent Lester Robert told Aiello.

In recent years retailers have paid fines for violating a ban on drawstrings at the neck and restrictions on drawstrings at the waist.

Now, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is going after 46 thrift stores, sending cease and desist letters to Goodwill and the Salvation Army after investigators found them reselling used children's clothing with drawstrings.

Schneiderman says "We are sending a clear signal that thrift stores, like all retailers, must comply with the law."

The attorney general says thrift stores "moved quickly to remove offending product from their shelves."  However, CBS 2 needed just a couple of minutes inside the Salvation Army store on West 96th Street to find boys' pants which appear to violate the drawstring regulations.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says a waist drawstring "should not hang out more than three inches."

CBS 2 measured a string that was more than five inches long.

"The thrift stores could do a little better in their stewardship and accountability to give good product to the people that they serve," parent Nikia Robert said.

The stores promise to do better and the attorney general promises to keep watching.

New York was among the first states to ban or restrict drawstrings on children's clothing, prompted by the 1996 death of a Westchester County girl who was run over by a school bus after her jacket drawstring became tangled on a handrail as she exited the vehicle, Aiello reported.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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