TRENTON, New Jersey Inhaling fumes from Dust-Off, paint remover, and whipped cream cans will be considered illegal under a new law recently signed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine.
Assemblymen Douglas Fisher and John J. Burzichelli sponsored the legislation in an attempt to crack down on the inhalation of euphoria-inducing chemicals, commonly known as huffing.
At the legislators' requests, the operators of YouTube.com, a Web site that hosts videos, have agreed to remove videos that document the use of inhalants.
"Nine out of 10 parents have no idea their kids are doing this," Fisher said Friday. "One out of four kids abuse inhalants. That's a very high number."
By allowing people to post videos of kids inhaling the toxic chemicals, the operators of YouTube.com are encouraging the inhalant abuse, Fisher said.
"YouTube is sort of like anarchy in a sense that everyone puts up anything they want and they don't monitor it because they get 100,000 videos a day," Fisher said. "They're making it more acceptable. Adults are thinking one way and the kids are thinking, This is cool.'"
Fisher said he and Burzichelli have supported the legislation for nearly a year and are working with schools and drug educational groups to inform children and parents about the risk of inhalants.
Under the new law, nitrous oxide and any glue, paint remover or chemicals with intoxicating fumes are defined as toxic chemicals under the state's illegal drug laws. The list of paraphernalia is also expanded to include objects associated with inhalant abuse such as compressed gas containers, tubes and bags.
Use or possession of a toxic chemical for purposes of huffing will be considered a disorderly person's offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Those found in possession of a toxic chemical with the intent to distribute or manufacture a chemical drug could receive up to 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
"Dust-Off is probably the worst one," Fisher said, referring to the aerosol chemical that cleans computer keyboards. "Everyone thinks it's just canned air, but you could die after the first time."
As many as one in five students in America has intentionally abused a common household product to get high before reaching eighth grade, according to the Alliance of Consumer Education.
Statistics also show that inhalants are the fifth-most-abused substance after alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drug misuse among high school students.
"I've talked to people in shelters where they said inhalants abuse was their first drug of choice," Fisher said. "Because they're household products and so readily available, it needs to be monitored."
Fisher advises parents to become educated about the warning signs, and to also visit YouTube.com to "begin to understand."
"It's such a new medium that no one is really paying any attention," he said.
The Web site operators also told Fisher that it will add "drug abuse" as one of the examples of what sort of videos are unacceptable on the site.
By Jessica Beymjbeym@sjnewsco.com
taken from the Gloucester County Times