The New York State Senate passed S.5151, sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., prohibiting the sale of whipped cream chargers, also known as ‘whippits, whippets, or whip-its’ to persons under the age of twenty-one.
“Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate professional use but when used improperly, it can be extremely lethal,” said Addabbo. “Young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance. Simply, inhaling nitrous oxide is not safe and we need to eliminate access to this dangerous substance being misused by younger residents.”
Addabbo drafted the legislation after constituents complained of empty containers littering their community. Whipped cream chargers are filled with nitrous oxide which is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’ and popularly used as an over-the-counter inhalant because of its euphoric effects. Dental professionals use the chemical during oral surgery to relieve pain, but it is highly addictive and has detrimental effects if used improperly. Under current law, a person who uses nitrous oxide for purposes of intoxication is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Under this legislation, an entity found in violation of selling whipped cream chargers to persons under 21 would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 for an initial offense and up to $500 for each subsequent offense.
“The need to limit the access and sale of whippits became apparent after receiving constituent complaints about empty canisters on neighborhood streets and my research on the damaging effects of inhaling nitrous oxide,” Addabbo added. “The piles of used whippits in our communities are not only an eyesore, but also indicative of a significant nitrous oxide abuse problem. Studies indicate that younger people are most at risk when it comes to inhalants because they are inexpensive, easy to obtain, and may provide one of the easiest ways to get high. This legislation will not only help to clean up our neighborhoods but more importantly, seek to protect our youth from the dangers of such a lethal chemical.”
Reports have shown that even a single inhaling of nitrous oxide can cause seizures, brain damage, strokes, heart attacks and death.
After passing the Senate, the bill will be considered by the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee.