Image by Simon Lee.

In the state of New York, people under the age of 21 are now banned from purchasing whipped cream cans. This childish law, no pun intended, was enacted in November of 2021, but just reported on last week by NBC New York.

The age requirement is aimed at decreasing youth usage of “whippets”, a term for the inhalant drug nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide, also commonly called laughing gas, is present in whipped cream cannisters and can provide a brief high to those who inhale it. To combat the 0.4% of teenagers who use whippets at least once a year, the state of New York passed legislation prohibiting whipped cream cannisters from being sold to people under 21. Should an unknowing store owner sell whipped cream to individual under-21, they risk being fined $250 for a first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.

If this law strikes you as an extreme violation of consumer freedom, you’d be correct. The vast majority of those under 21 who purchase a can of whipped cream do so with the sole intent of enjoying the dessert topping with some ice cream, cake, or other treat. It is useful to compare this law to other age-restricted items like alcohol or tobacco. In those cases, an under-21 person would buy the product with the sole purpose of using it, and thereby causing harm to oneself.

There are countless other household products that overzealous teens have used to feel high. Nutmeg, bath salts, hand sanitizer, air dusters, glues, other adhesives, and sharpie markers have all been sniffed, drank, or inhaled to make teenagers a little high. It simply doesn’t make sense to place age-restrictions on these items, thereby punishing the overwhelming majority of teenagers who use these products as intended.

As laughable as this law is, it reveals the mindset of prohibitionist politicians who feel that the people who elected them can’t be trusted to act safely on their own. Therefore, in the minds of these ideologues, government must interfere to protect their health and safety. Freedom of choice is a critical aspect of the American way of life. Our lawmakers should vote accordingly.