Chief Coroner Neil MacLeanThursday 13 September 2012, 5:02PM
Media release from Chief Coroner Neil Maclean
Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean today released a report showing
butane inhalation deaths have killed at least 63 Kiwis since
Recreational butane inhalation, also known as volatile substance
abuse (VSA) or "huffing", is the intentional inhalation of
aerosols, solvents and gases for intoxication.
"This is an insidious and extremely dangerous activity that
is predominantly killing young males," Judge MacLean said. "It is a
sad reflection of our society that so many people are losing their
lives for the sake of being briefly intoxicated."
Judge MacLean began the review of the coronial records in July
after two Dunedin teenagers were seriously injured after an LPG
canister they were huffing from exploded.
The case-study shows that of the 63 deaths since 2000:
• More than 75% were male.
• Almost half were Maori.
• More than 87% were aged under 24 years.
• The youngest was a 12 year-old boy, while the
oldest was a 76-year-old man. The next oldest fatality was 32 years
• In all cases where the method was known, the
abused substance was a common household product.
Judge MacLean said the case-study includes summaries of coroners'
recommendations from some of the 63 findings.
"Several Coroners have expressed concerns regarding the
availability of inhalants from retailers and have commented on the
need for regulation," he said. "The difficulty is that most of the
common inhalants are everyday household products.
"Other recommendations have discussed the need for a national
education campaign and increased publicity to improve knowledge
about the risks of inhalant abuse, and to help curb this dangerous
The report also contains 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.
The case-study is part of the second edition of the quarterly
Recommendations Recap, which contains summaries of coronial
recommendations released between 1 January and 31 March 2012.