August 12, 2008
Westchester lawmakers approve bill restricting sale of some types of cough medicines to minors
The Journal News
WHITE PLAINS - Westchester County lawmakers last night approved a bill restricting the sale of some types of cough medicines after reports of abuse by young people and a more serious case involving a crash that killed a Yonkers man.
The county Board of Legislators followed Nassau and Suffolk counties in trying to make it more difficult for minors -those younger than 18 -to buy cough medicines that contain Dexotromethorphan, or DXM, which can cause out-of-body sensations and hallucinations if taken in large quantities in either pill or syrup form.
The bill was passed unanimously. As part of the measure, a penalty of up to $150 could be imposed.
"There is a huge interest in protecting our teenagers and our kids," said Judy Myers, D-Mamaroneck, the bill's sponsor. "The intent is to help educate children on the practice of 'robotripping.' "
"Robotripping" - from the popular brand-name Robitussin - is when people take large amounts of cough medicine for recreational purposes. Often, it is mixed to enhance the effects of alcohol or other drugs.
Overdosing on DXM can cause vomiting, seizures, high blood pressure, fainting, coma and death, public health officials warn.
A Westchester survey found that 5 percent to 9 percent of 3,241 middle-schoolers reported having used cough syrup or cold medicine to get high, according to Student Assistance Services, which provides drug and alcohol counseling to the county's school districts.
Many drugstore chains already have voluntarily implemented programs that put restrictions on sales of DXM medications to people younger than 18 years old.
In March, Mohd Shreiqein, 21, of Pleasantville was sent to prison for causing a fatal crash on Sprain Road while he was high on cough medicine.
He was charged with negligent homicide for the death of Anthony Vieiro, 87, a World War II veteran from Yonkers.
At last night's public hearing, Vieiro's daughter, Linda Vieiro Minozzi, said too many parents are "in the dark" about "robotripping."
"It's time for us to take the blinders off," she said. "It's a shame my father had to die for this. Why hasn't anybody educated us about this?"
She implored Westchester to follow other counties that have similar restrictions.
Mandy Hagan, representing the Consumer Healthcare Association, also supported the bill. Although the industry has been more active in educating the public, age-restricted limitations also shed light on the matter, she said.
Legislator Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, said the case was pretty clear.
"The facts of the matter is somebody got killed on Sprain (Road) while he was 'robotripping,' " Jenkins said. "It is an important thing to support."
And somebody got killed. And driving while impaired is a criminal offense in most localities. And the guy driving the car was 21. And the fucking genie is out of the bottle and has been for some time. Yeah, the case is real clear.