Store owners are being warned about a little-known law prohibiting the sale of whipped cream to people under the age of 21 in New York. The law went into effect in November 2021, but few people are aware of it being on the books.
The law is meant to prevent teenagers from using whipped cream canisters to inhale nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas.
The legislation was sponsored by St. Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. of Queens. He says it has been a problem with young teens abusing the cans to get a quick high off of the nitrous oxide inside the cans. They are known as whippets, whippets, or whip-its.
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What is the reason behind this new law?
“This new law is an important step in combating a significant problem for many neighborhoods throughout my district,” said Addabbo. The need to limit the access and sale of whippits first became apparent after receiving constituent complaints about empty canisters on neighborhood streets.
Nitrous oxide is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’ and is 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.
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Studies have shown 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, according to Addabbo.
Under the law, any business found illegally selling whipped cream to people 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.