In recent times, there has been a significant buzz around the age requirement for purchasing whipped cream chargers, especially in New York. The question arises due to the misuse of nitrous oxide, commonly found in whipped cream chargers, for recreational purposes.
Misinterpretation of the Law in New York
In New York, a law was passed with the intent to combat the problem of teenagers getting high by inhaling nitrous oxide from whippets, also known as whip-its. These are small nitrous oxide-filled chargers used to aerosolize dessert toppings like whipped cream. However, there has been a widespread misinterpretation of this law. Contrary to some media reports, the law does not prevent people younger than 21 from buying cans of whipped cream. Instead, it targets the sale of whippets, which are sold individually or in packs to recharge refillable whipped cream canisters.
Clarification from State Officials
Democratic state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who sponsored the law, clarified that the measure is not meant to prevent those under 21 from buying whipped cream cans. The actual intent is to restrict the sale of nitrous oxide chargers, which are typically two-inch cartridges that can be silver-colored, neon green, or pink. The law, which went into effect on Nov. 25, 2021, imposes a $250 fine for a first offense and up to $500 for subsequent violations for selling whippets to someone under 21. However, no penalties apply for selling whipped cream to anyone, regardless of age.
The Real Concern: Nitrous Oxide Misuse
The recreational use of nitrous oxide is not a new phenomenon. Historically, members of the British elite attended “laughing gas parties” in the late 1700s. In recent decades, nitrous oxide misuse has been prevalent at music festivals. The lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic have been linked to increased substance abuse, including nitrous oxide. Inhalants like nitrous oxide are particularly appealing to adolescents because they are legal, inexpensive, and easy to obtain. However, there is no safe level of recreational nitrous oxide use, and prolonged usage can lead to severe health issues, including depression, psychosis, and even death.
While the age restriction for purchasing whipped cream chargers has caused confusion, the primary goal remains clear: to protect the youth from the dangers of nitrous oxide misuse. It’s essential to be informed and understand the actual intent behind such laws to ensure safety and compliance.