New York stores to enforce ban on whipped cream cannisters to anyone under 21 in effort to stop deadly inhaling of ‘hippy crack’ nitrous oxide ‘whippets’ – as 1 in 5 kids admit using inhalants by the time they are 13
- New York stores will be fined $250 if they are caught selling whipped cream cannisters to anyone under 21
- The state-wide law was passed last fall, but a crackdown is now being launched amid fears teenagers are increasingly putting themselves at risk
- Nitrous oxide, known as ‘laughing gas’ and ‘hippy crack’, can cause low blood pressure, fainting, heart attack and sudden death
- Whipped cream cannisters use nitrous oxide cannisters to release the cream from the can
- One in five young people have used inhalants such as nitrous oxide by the time they reach 13
New York stores are set to launch a crackdown and enforce a year-old state law that bans anyone under 21 from purchasing whipped cream cannisters.
It comes amid concerns that teenagers and young adults are increasingly getting high by inhaling the nitrous oxide, known as ‘laughing gas’, that is used in the cans.
Any store who sells a whipped cream cannister to someone under 21 will find themselves being handed a $250 fine for the first offence.
Subsequent violations can mean fines of up to $500 for each contravention of the state-wide law according to the Albany Times Union.
‘Laughing gas’ or ‘hippy crack’ can be inhaled by discharging nitrous gas cartridges, known as ‘whippets’.
Inhaling the gas can cause low blood pressure, fainting, heart attack and sudden death.
According to that Alcohol and Drug Foundation the potential long term effects can lead to memory loss and psychosis.
The New York bill was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Joseph Addabo when it came into effect last year.
Any store who sells a whipped cream cannister to someone under 21 will find themselves being handed a $250 fine for the first offence. Subsequent violations can mean fines of up to $500 for each contravention of the state-wide law according to the Albany Times Union
Nitrous oxide is regularly taken by young people at parties and festivals, and the small silver canisters it is usually sold in have become a familiar sight. Sen. Joseph Addabo described them as an ‘eyesore’ before adding that they are ‘indicative of a significant abuse problem’
President of the New York Association of Convenience stores, Kent Sopris said that he had told members of his organization to enforce the law to help with the crackdown
He has said he supported the measure after realizing the detrimental effects nitrous oxide was having on his district.
Addabo previously said: ‘This new law is an important step in combating a significant problem for many neighborhoods throughout my district.
‘The need to limit the access and sale of (whippets) first became apparent to me after I had been receiving constituent complaints about empty (whippets) on neighborhood streets.
‘Used (whippets) piling up in our communities are not only an eyesore but also indicative of a significant nitrous oxide abuse problem.’
Approximately 1 in 5 young people have used inhalants by the time they turn 13, or reach eighth grade, according to the DEA.
Abusing inhalants can cause damage to the parts of the brain that control thinking, moving, vision, and hearing.’
President of the New York Association of Convenience stores, Kent Sopris said that he had told members of his organization to enforce the law.
He claims that he only became aware of it two months ago, which he blamed on how the law was tracked.
Super-sized canisters of nitrous oxide or ‘noss’ pictured on the streets of Notting Hill in London following a carnival over the weekend. The industrial size cannisters are used for whipped cream in restaurants and are not intended to be used recreationally as a drug
Fast Gas, the company who made the cylinders seen at Notting Hill, say their products are used to produce whipped cream in restaurant environments
What are the risks of inhaling ‘hippy crack’?
Nitrous Oxide, has been nicknamed ‘laughing gas’ due to the euphoric and relaxed feeling people who inhale it can sometimes feel.
The substance – also known as ‘hippy crack’ – is normally bought in pressured canisters, commonly transferred to a container, e.g. a balloon, from which the gas is inhaled.
The effects of nitrous oxide vary depending on how much has been inhaled but they include:
• Feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness.
• Dizziness, difficulty in thinking straight and fits of giggles/laughter.
• Sound distortions or even hallucinations.
• Unconsciousness or death from lack of oxygen. This occurs when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide.
Sopris said: ‘I think that there is some sort of reporting mechanism that just didn’t go the way it was supposed to.
‘We had been tracking the bill last year, and when I looked in the bill tracking file, there is just no indication that it was signed.’
Price Chopper, a supermarket chain based in Schenectady, told the Albany Times Union that self-checkouts would start flagging the whipped cream cannisters as age-restricted from September 1.
It is understood that other food retailers will take the same steps in order to follow the enforcement of the law.
More than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdose deaths last year, the highest number on record and a notable increase from the 93,655 Americans who died in 2020.
It comes as giant laughing gas cannisters were litters all over the streets of Notting Hill after the carnival in London.
Revellers usually use the smaller silver cannisters to achieve the ‘high’, but a worrying new trend shows that they are now using industrial sized tubes.
The large cannisters are used to produce whipped cream in restaurants and catering, but are not intended for recreational use.
Experts say some of the containers can deliver 80 times the usual amount of gas, raising the risk of people using too much.
The large canisters are used in the catering industry and being in possession of one is not a criminal offence, but selling the drug for recreational use is.
The containers are readily available online and on social media, while last weekend dealers were seen going around the Electric City festival in Gunnersbury Park, West London, offering inflated balloons for £10.
In Southgate, north London, local officers have repeatedly come across large piles of the supersized canisters in public spaces.
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