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Idiocracy: It is Now Illegal for Anyone Under 21 to Buy Canned Whipped Cream in This State

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

In New York City, you not only have to bring your ID to the store to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, but now you must only show proof of being 21 years of age if you intend to buy whipped cream cans. This is not a new law and, in fact, was passed in November 2021. This law is meant to stop teenagers from using whipped cream canisters to inhale nitrous oxide, known as “whippets.” The legislation, though, targets the”whipped cream chargers,” which are small steel cartridges of nitrous oxide used in whipped cream dispensers.

Stores in Albany, NY, the state’s capital, have started IDing for the purchase of whipped cream cans, totally misinterpreting what the legislation pertains to.

“There has been a misinterpretation of the language and intent of the bill,” New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo said in a press release. “My bill is not intended to prevent people under the age of 21 from buying whipped cream dispensers, but the small, individual charger or cartridge inside the whipped cream canisters that is the target of this law.” 

Still, store owners are taking the misinterpretation very seriously. A photo from New York’s Albany County has gone viral online, thanks to a local store that hung the message in their store window. The sign appeared in front of a refrigerator door at Stewart’s convenience store.

The sign reads, “effective 8/12/22 we will be IDing for whipped cream! Must be 21 years old!”

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The abuse of inhaling nitrous oxide is not new but, unfortunately, has re-emerged thanks to social media. Abusing whippets can lead to muscle weakness and nerve damage. Frequent use of whippets can cause severe nerve damage. Long-term effects include kidney and liver damage, heart failure, memory problems, vitamin B-12 deficiency, low blood pressure, weakened immune system, lung damage, and impaired brain function. Whippet abuse has also been linked to heart attacks, sudden death, fainting, and psychosis.

“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,” said Addabbo back in October 2021. “Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate professional use but when used improperly, it can be extremely lethal.”

Addabbo also said that adolescents buy and inhale these canisters because it is a cheaper way to get high, and they mistakenly believe that it is a safer alternative to traditional, more harmful substances. This is a dangerous misconception. Addabbo thinks this new law will eliminate easy access to nitrous oxide canisters for minors once the general population can interpret it correctly. But how did such a simple piece of legislation passed almost a year ago get so badly misinterpreted to the point where store owners are forbidding the sale of Reddi Whip to anyone under 21 years of age?

The penalty for selling the nitrous oxide canisters to minors under 21 will now carry a  $250 fine for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense after that.