The Chief Coroner has recommended implementing a minimum purchase age for butane in a report highlighting the number of deaths from volatile substance abuse in New Zealand.
There have been 63 deaths since 2000 from 'huffing', the report by Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean revealed, the majority of which were caused by butane inhalation.
The review found 75% of the deaths were males, and more than 87% of the total deceased were aged under 24.
"It is a sad reflection of our society that so many people are losing their lives for the sake of being briefly intoxicated," said MacLean.
Butane inhalation, also known as volatile substance abuse (VSA) or 'huffing', is the intentional inhalation of aerosols, solvents and gases for intoxication.
MacLean recommended several options to help curb the dangerous practice, including a national education campaign, increased publicity to improve knowledge about the risks and introducing age restrictions to limit availability.
"Several Coroners have expressed concerns regarding the availability of inhalants from retailers and have commented on the need for regulation," he said.
MacLean said a carpet ban on inhalants would not work because most were everyday household products.
The review was sparked in July after two Dunedin teenagers were seriously injured when an LPG canister they were huffing from exploded.
According to the report, the youngest to die was a 12 year old boy, while the oldest was a 76-year-old man. In all cases where the method was known, the abused substance was a common household product.
MacLean also found that Maori had the highest number of 'huffing' related deaths of any ethnic group, with 30 of the 60 deceased of Maori ethnicity.
New Zealand Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said 'huffing' was a serious issue that could not be ignored.
"I think it's time someone like the Minister of Health takes responsibility for this."
The report contained case studies from coroners in Australia, as well as a look at Australian and British laws around the restriction of the sale of butane products.