The father of Christchurch's most recent huffing victim has echoed calls for urgent Government action to prevent another needless death.
Tewe Eru's daughter Poihaere, 17, died in an Upper Riccarton park last month after an apparent huffing binge with friends in some flax bushes. They had 16 cans of butane with them, bought at a nearby store.
Eru said there should be restrictions on butane "so this doesn't have to happen to any other parent or child".
He made the comments after a "shocking" report released yesterday found scores of Kiwi youths had killed themselves by huffing.
Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean's report on the recreational inhalation of butane revealed 63 people had died from huffing in the past 12 years.
He found 24 of those who died were under the age of 17, or 55 under 24. Maori and males were over-represented, with 30 and 49 deaths respectively.
Judge MacLean said it was hard to find any action taken to tackle the issue.
Huffing was an "extraordinarily hard problem" because the products used were everyday household products.
"We tend to look at the Government to help, at least co-ordinate, a multi-agency response,'' he said.
"I think there are a lot of people out there anxious to do something, and they may need legislative backing."
He said it was "unrealistic" to make the products illegal, but coroners and other researchers found they were too readily available from shops.
Eru said "hard restrictions" were necessary.
"A shop proprietor doesn't care whether they are over the age or not. It's money to them. If it's under lock and key, perhaps you can prevent another death."
Eru, who had no idea his daughter was inhaling butane, said parents needed to "listen to our kids".
"We think our kids are perfect. I thought my girl was the perfect girl," he said.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the report's findings were "a big wake-up call".
"This is a matter where we have to . . . collaborate across Government," he said.
However, it was too early to say what recommendations would be adopted, or what priority the Government would put on huffing.
Judge MacLean launched his urgent review after two Dunedin teenagers suffered serious burns when the two LPG bottles they were allegedly sniffing exploded in July.
Poihaere Eru died a month later, and followed the death of 12-year-old Darius Logan Claxton in a New Brighton car park in May.
Darius was the youngest huffing-related death in the past 12 years. The oldest was a 76-year-old man and the second oldest a 32-year-old.
Judge MacLean said deaths were "very random," with people dying after the first use, 50th or 100th.
Huffing was primarily related to people from low socio-economic backgrounds.
New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said previous coroner's recommendations had been ignored and government agencies had passed the buck.
He said restricting the supply of volatile substances was near impossible, but the issue should not be ignored.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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