It is illegal for New Yorkers under age 21 to purchase a can of whipped cream, according to recently-passed state law.
The law, which went into effect in November 2021, is meant to prevent teenagers from using canned whipped cream to inhale nitrous oxide, otherwise known as “whippets.”
“Inhalants are invisible, volatile substances found in common household products that produce chemical vapors that are inhaled to induce psychoactive or mind-altering effects,” according to a US Drug Enforcement Administration factsheet.
Approximately 1 in 5 young people have used inhalants like whippits by the time they reach eighth grade, the DEA said. Abusing inhalants can “cause damage to the parts of the brain that control thinking, moving, vision, and hearing.”
New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens said he sponsored the New York law after receiving complaints of empty canisters littering the streets.
“The need to limit the access and sale of whippits first became apparent after receiving constituent complaints about empty canisters on neighborhood streets. Used whippits piling up in our communities are not only an eye sore, but also indicative of a significant nitrous oxide abuse problem,” Addabbo said in an October 2021 statement.
“Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate professional use but when used improperly, it can be extremely lethal,” Addabbo added. “Sadly, young people buy and inhale this gas to get ‘high’ because they mistakenly believe it is a ‘safe’ substance. This law will eliminate easy access to this dangerous substance for our youth.”