There are plenty of activities and products that are off-limits to anyone until they come of age in the U.S. From driving a car and buying yourself a drink in a bar to picking up tobacco products and purchasing weapons, laws are in place that prohibit much younger people from putting themselves in a potentially dangerous situation. Now, New York has enacted a new law that bans anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing a specific dessert product from stores across the state. Read on to see which sweet treat is off-limits to anyone underage.
This isn't the first case of New York lawmakers limiting certain items from the public.
Besides federal rules, state and local governments have long devised their own rules when it comes to restrictions on certain items. These laws typically stem from a significant public health concern. For example, in New York, a ban on trans fats in foods that went into place in 2007 was made national in 2018, with some studies showing it had a noticeably positive effect on heart health. And in 2019, the Big Apple became one of the first places to raise the age limit on vaping products and other items to 21 before it became a federal policy later that year.
However, not all product prohibition plans have worked out. In 2012, New York City officials proposed a ban on all sodas and sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces in most establishments. The law was hotly debated before courts ultimately struck it down in 2014. And now, new regulations are setting an age limit on another sweet staple.
People in New York are banned from buying this one dessert if they're under the age of 21.
It's common knowledge that you need to have a certain number of birthdays under your belt to buy some products. But in New York, anyone under the age of 21 is now banned from buying canisters of whipped cream from stores, local NBC affiliate New York 4 reports. Retailers are now beginning to enforce the law—which technically went into effect in Nov. 2021—by requiring customers to show I.D. to purchase the dessert staple.
The new rule aims to combat a growing health issue in certain communities.
At first glance, deciding to put an age limit on a sundae topping may seem confusing. However, New York lawmakers say they were moved to propose and pass the legislation when it became clear that teenagers were using the popular products as inhalants by breathing in the nitrous oxide—also commonly known as laughing gas—used to pressurize the whipped cream canisters.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, these are also known as "whippets," "whippets," or "whip-its," which create a feeling of euphoria and giddiness when inhaled. But the gas can also cause dizziness, sweating, feelings of weakness or fatigue, and even fainting, loss of blood pressure, sudden death, and heart attack. Long-term exposure can also lead to depression and psychosis, among other health issues.
"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," New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. said in a statement after the law passed in October of last year.
"Nitrous oxide is a legal chemical for legitimate professional use, but when used improperly, it can be extremely lethal," he explained. "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."
Stores that sell whipped cream canisters to minors will face steep fines.
As a result of the new law, all retailers in New York are now required to verify a customer's age with I.D. whenever they purchase canisters of whipped cream. Any store that violates the rule will be subject to an initial $250 fine and hit with penalties of up to $500 for each violation after that, according to Addabbo's statement.
The changes may soon become much more noticeable for some. New York-based supermarket Price Chopper confirmed that self-checkout kiosks in their locations would begin to flag the items for an I.D. check as of Sept. 1, The Times Union reports.
According to industry leaders, more establishments are beginning to enforce the rule after belatedly learning the state had put it into law. "I think that there is some sort of reporting mechanism that just didn't go the way it was supposed to," Kent Sopris, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, told the Times Union. "We had been tracking the bill last year, and when I looked in the bill tracking file, there is just no indication that it was signed."