Grocery stores in New York will now need to check the identification of customers seeking to purchase canned whipped cream, to verify they are 21 years old or above.
The newly enforced state law, which also impacts convenience stores and other retail outlets, is intended to prevent people from using the cans as “whippets” to inhale nitrous oxide.
“This new law is an important step in combatting a significant problem for many neighborhoods throughout my district,” New York State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. said in a statement when the law was passed in late 2021.
Under this law, a retailer found in violation of selling a whipped cream can to a person under 21 is subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 for an initial offense and up to $500 for each subsequent offense.
“The need to limit the access and sale of whippits first became apparent after receiving constituent complaints about empty canisters on neighborhood streets," Addabbo said. "Used whippits piling up in our communities are not only an eyesore, but also indicative of a significant nitrous oxide abuse problem. This law will help to protect our youth from the dangers of this lethal chemical, while helping to clean up our neighborhoods.”
Stewart’s Shops is among the affected retailers. The more than 350-unit c-store chain, based in Ballston Spa, N.Y., has posted signs in stores saying “effective 8/12/22 we will be IDing for whipped cream! Must be 21 years old!”, according to a report by WRGB News.
The retailer did not respond to a CSP request for comment.
“Requiring age verification when purchasing whipped cream is another classic compliance burden placed on convenience stores in New York State,” Kent Sopris, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS), told CSP Daily News. “As businesses work to come back after the COVID-19 pandemic and struggle to hire employees, placing new requirements and financial penalties upon them only hinders progress. We hear constantly how important small businesses are to New York politicians, but quite frankly, laws like this prove otherwise.”
This story was originally published on WGB sister publication CSP Daily News and has been modified slightly.