Police have praised retailers for restricting the sale of butane-based products to minors in an effort to reduce deaths from 'huffing'.
Huffing is the intentional inhalation of aerosols, solvents and gases for intoxication, also known as volatile substance abuse (VSA).
Superintendent Bruce Bird said he was "heartened" to hear that all Placemakers stores in New Zealand and several Mitre 10 stores in the South Island were bringing in restrictions on the sale of butane.
Placemakers had established a voluntary code to restrict sales of butane-based products to minors and staff would now ask for age identification if they believed products weren't being bought for their intended purpose, Bird said.
Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean last week released figures showing that 63 people had died in huffing incidents since 2000. Twenty-four of those who died were aged under 17.
In August, the Drug Foundation urged retailers to take greater responsibility for the sale of butane products to young people, saying they “should receive a knock on the door from police”.
'One part' of the solution
The foundation's call followed the death of a 17-year-old Christchurch girl who had been huffing butane at a suburban park.
In a statement issued today, Bird said that everyone had a role to play in finding a solution to huffing.
"Police, just like retailers, are one part of that solution," he said.
Bird said keeping vulnerable children and young people safe was a top priority under the national youth policing plan.
"Part of this means ensuring at-risk youth are identified early and prioritised for intervention and development programmes.
"We're also working with schools and community groups to educate and work with at-risk youth in relation to the dangers of abusing alcohol, drugs and solvents," he said.