The death of a 17-year-old Christchurch girl after huffing a can of butane has again prompted the New Zealand Drug Foundation to urge shop owners to take greater responsibility for selling butane products to young people.
Christchurch police have named the 17-year-old girl as Poi-Haere Eru, known as Pumba to her friends.
She was declared dead shortly after arriving at hospital on Saturday after huffing butane at a suburban park.
Ross Bell of the Drug Foundation says shops displaying butane need to take a hard look at themselves.
"And I think they should be receiving a knock on the door by the police," Bell said.
The Drug Foundation's call is backed by an Auckland resident who has accused one city dairy of tempting customers to buy cheap butane by displaying it.
Karangahape Road resident Jill Parsons says she feels the dairy's window display of the gas is exploiting the people of her neighbourhood, especially children and homeless people.
Parsons was incensed to see cheap butane in the dairy's window.
"I went into the dairy; I asked them what the purpose of the cans were. They said it was for smelling or sniffing."
When ONE News went to the shop, its owner was not in but his worker was quick to dismantle the display when asked why he had butane in the window for $2 a can.
The shop owner later told ONE News by phone: "I told him to take it out and put it under the counter but I think he forgot it from there. I'll just check with my staff anyhow."
Parsons said kids are always going to find ways to harm themselves, "but you don't have to put it in their face".
The sale of butane is back under the spotlight after the latest death.
Staff at dairies ONE News visited today said they did not know it was used to get high. Others said they would never sell it to minors.
Bell said: "It's a real challenge to get information awareness and education out to those corner dairies who sadly I think are selling these products too readily."
One officer, dealing with the Christchurch tragedy, says butane should not be sold to young people.
"When you look at young people sniffing things, Glue and paint have detrimental effects long term, but [in] these butane deaths, there's been a very rapid onset of death and no recovery," said Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Murton of the Christchurch South CIB.
It is a bleak reminder to those who choose to ignore the warnings.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the distraught friend of the Christchurch teenager who died after huffing butane watched in horror as members of the public tried unsuccessfully to revive her at the park.
Police revealed yesterday they found 16 cans of butane at Hansons Reserve in Upper Riccarton, where the girl had been huffing with two friends aged 14 and 16.
Detective Sergeant Craig Farrant said the young women might have bought more cans than those recovered, each of which contained about 500ml of butane gas. They were believed to have been bought at a nearby shop.
"There is evidence they had significantly more over the preceding 24-hour period," Farrant said.
The death comes weeks after Chief Coroner Neil MacLean launched a review into huffing. This followed the death in May of Christchurch 12-year-old Darius Claxton and the serious injuries suffered last month by two Mosgiel teenagers.
Police have started an inquiry into the sale of butane as a result of the death.
Emergency services were called to the park, on the corner of Hansons Lane and Haynes Ave, about 4.40pm on Saturday.
Farrant said it appeared three girls had been huffing the butane in some flax bushes.
After the 17-year-old collapsed, one of the girls panicked and fled the park.
The other became "very hysterical" and attracted the attention of two members of public.
A man and a woman attempted CPR until St John Ambulance arrived, Farrant said.
Police took both friends for medical treatment as a precaution.
National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman said butane was "not far away from heroin in terms of the risk of overdose".
"Many young people underestimate the dangers of this class of drugs. It is the same class of depressive drugs Michael Jackson died from."
Butane and other solvents caused users to lose inhibitions.
However, like alcohol, solvents had a "depressive, anaesthetic impact" on the brain, quickly making users feel tired.
Sellman said solvents poisoned the respiratory system, affecting breathing and could increase heart rate. A surge of adrenaline could cause that beating to become irregular and stop the heart.
Between 2007 and 2011 there were 28 huffing-related deaths in