By: Joanna Reid
In November 2021, New York State made it illegal for those under 21 to purchase whipped cream. This law was passed after it was realized teenagers were using the fumes of the chemicals to get high. This drug is also known as “whippets.” Now stores must ask for identification that proves one is at least 21 years old before selling whipped cream chargers to them. It was not until more recently that most of the public became aware of this law.
Recently, many right-leaning news sources have begun to report on this topic like Fox, “Independent” and the “New York Post.” Reporting on this outdated law may be being used as a distraction from important news like the ongoing investigations with Donald Trump, the Roe V. Wade ruling, gun violence and the Supreme Court's plan to overturn Obergefell V. Hodges.
The law states, “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 law was heavily influenced by New York State Senator, Joseph P. Addabbo Jr, a Democrat.
According to “The Economic Times,” “4.6 percent of teens between 12 and 17 have misused the [whipped cream chargers] drug, compared to 5.6 percent of people older than 26.” Politicians are hoping to keep citizens safe with this law, but very few people have died from nitrous oxide overdoses.
Seemingly, there has been some confusion about this law. Many of the news sources mentioned above wrote misleading articles on the topic. It should be noted that disposable whipped cream has not been outlawed, but the charger cartridges that contain nitrous oxide for reusable whipped cream bottles cannot be sold to those under 21 years old. Senator Addabbo cleared up the confusion, explaining, “Disposable cans such as Reddi-wip were never intended to be included.”
There are plenty of ways for people under 21 to get around the law because the chargers can be bought online through delivery services, like Amazon or eBay. It was stated that businesses will be held responsible for selling these chargers to under-21-year-olds. However, it is unclear who is supposed to ensure that New Yorkers are acting in accordance, especially when it comes to big companies that can be accessed from all over the country.
It seems there are mixed feelings about this legislation. Sophomore psychology major, Chris Franklin said, “I understand where they are coming from, but it feels kind of excessive. I do feel like there are laws that are more important to pass overall, but if this law helps [the greater good], then I suppose it’s worthwhile.”
Personally, I have never met someone who has used the aerosol chemical to get high. I have heard of other forms of inhalants, but I was not aware of whipped cream cans being used for this purpose until now. If people really want to use the aerosol as an inhalant, they will find a way to do so. It would not be that difficult for those who are underage to ask someone 21 or over to simply buy whipped cream chargers for them.
Additionally, there are no laws in place prohibiting the sale of canned bug spray or cooking spray, which both typically contain aerosol as well. On top of this, nothing is stopping others from exchanging the whipped cream chargers with citizens under 21. Only the sale of these chargers are permitted.
It’s doubtful that this law is going to be changed anytime soon, or at least until Senator Addabbo is out of office. This could be awhile as there is no term limit for senators in New York. In my opinion, I think there are a lot more relevant issues that New York should be concerned about. New York’s elected officials could be dedicating their time to the rising monkey-pox epidemic, decreasing homelessness or making decisions on energy sources that could impact climate change. Focusing on these issues could impact the lives of millions of people. If the government truly wants to protect and contribute to the future of youth and young adults, banning things like whipped cream chargers is not the way to do it.