Addabbo legislation prohibits sale of whipped cream chargers, often used as intoxicants, to New York residents under 21

Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

May 22, 2019

In an effort to protect young people from the often serious effects of inhaling nitrous oxide, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has introduced legislation (S.5151) prohibiting the sale of whipped cream chargers to people under the age of 21 in New York State.

“Known as whippits, whippets, nossies, nangs, Johnsons, and a variety of other street names, these items contain nitrous oxide and are commonly used to recharge and refill empty whipped cream canisters, or blow up balloons,” said Addabbo. “However, they have also become a means of recreational drug use, particularly among younger New Yorkers, that can lead to debilitating health threats. By limiting the purchase of these canisters to those over 21, and particularly to those who have a legitimate purpose for buying them, we can help protect our children from their intoxicating effects.” The canisters and related accessories are easily purchased online or over the counter.

Addabbo decided to introduce the legislation after hearing constituent complaints of finding high numbers of empty whipped cream chargers discarded on neighborhood streets throughout his district. “These piles of used whippets in our communities are not only an eye sore, but may indicate a significant problem with nitrous oxide abuse,” he said.

The legislation would impose a civil fine of up to $250 for a first offense of illegally selling whipped cream chargers to a person under 21 years old. Second and subsequent offenses would carry fines of up to $500 each.

The use of whippits can lead to seizures, comas, severe frostbite, and sudden sniffing death syndrome. Nitrous oxide abuse is also associated with brain damage, nervous system disorders, and damage to the lungs, heart, kidney and liver. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 9.1 percent of Americans have tried inhalants, and that about 11.8 million of the survey participants reported past misuse of nitrous oxide or whippits.

“According to reports by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 719,000 people aged 12 or older reported using inhalants for the first time within the prior 12 months,” said Addabbo. “In addition, national surveys indicate that almost 21.7 million Americans aged 12 and older have used inhalants at least once in their lives. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey shows that 13.1 percent of eighth graders have used inhalants. We need to take steps to address this growing danger.”

Addabbo’s bill is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection. The Assembly counterpart legislation is being reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection.

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