City of Charleston tackles "huffing"

City of Charleston tackles "huffing"

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston is bringing attention to the problem of "huffing," inhaling canned air to get high.

City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance that puts the crime in the city code.  Two more readings will be held before the ordinance becomes official.

The recipe for huffing can be found on store shelves.

For example, a can of aerosol dust remover, spray paint and other industrial type chemicals that can be bought cheap for a big high.

"It usually causes some sense of euphoria or giddiness," said MUSC Dr. Keith Borg.

But huffing is no laughing matter.

Twenty seven year old Adam Wayne Buchner has been cited five times since May for unlawful use of hydrocarbons, most recently for huffing from an aerosol dust remover can at a downtown Charleston hotel.

Thirty three year old Timothy Edwin Hampton was arrested earlier this month for sniffing canned air inside his parked car.

Under city law, the crime calls for up to 30 days in jail or a $100 fine, a misdemeanor.

City prosecutor Mark Bourdon says that penalty won't necessarily stop someone from huffing again.

"A lot of times we'll try to get people in a program as opposed to simply punish, because often times punishment isn't enough to address the cause of the problem or the addiction that these substances cause people," Bourdon said.

Dr. Borg warned huffing can be deadly.

"First and foremost you can get sudden cardiac death. The heart can stop just from toxicity. You can displace all the oxygen from the lungs, so in essence suffocation."

It's a warning you would think would make most people who huff to think twice.

"Some of it can be very addictive and just drives people back again and again," Dr. Borg said.

According to the Charleston County Coroner's Office, since 2008, there have been at least two deaths directly linked to huffing.

©2012 WCSC. All rights reserved.