Bill Would Ban Minors From Buying Nitrous Oxide "Whippets"

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A state lawmaker wants to make it illegal to sell nitrous oxide gas to minors.  Kids are buying the inhalant in small canisters known as “whippets.” 

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports...

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Torlakson says some young people are “getting a cheap high” by inhaling nitrous oxide...also known as “laughing gas.”  He says kids can buy whippets at stores, smoke shops or even from an ice cream truck for as little as 25 cents per canister.  They’re called “Whippets” because nitrous oxide is used to make whipped cream. 

Antonio Roque is a health education advisor with the Los Angeles Unified School District.  He says a lot of kids easily become addicted to “whippets”, which can cause brain damage or even be fatal...

“Over the past five to ten years we have seen an increase in the use of inhalants, particularly nitrous oxide, and one of the reasons that that is happening is because it’s a legal substance and they can buy it...”
Under the bill, adults would still be allowed to purchase whippets.  Dentists also would be permitted to use nitrous oxide when performing oral surgery on minors.  

If the measure passes, stores or individuals caught illegally selling whippets to kids could face fines up to 25-hundred dollars.  Shop owners could have their business licenses suspended for repeat offenses.  Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure in an assembly committee within a few weeks.