?Inhaling Helium Seems Like Fun Until Someone Dies? is the Message from the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition Press Conference, Supported by EIC

March 23, 2012

“Inhaling Helium Seems Like Fun Until Someone Dies” is the Message from the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition Press Conference, Supported by EIC

Washington, DC (PRWEB) March 15, 2012

The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC), this morning, participated in a press conference with the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition and the parents of 14-year-old Ashley Long, who died last month after huffing helium. Media from the greater DC area attended, gathering information and showing their commitment to accurate, informative reporting that tells audiences, not what to think, but what to think about, so they can make informed, positive decisions.

Also at the press conference was Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who reinforced that intentionally inhaling helium is like inhaling other household substances and is not harmless fun, as it has severe consequences. A person can cut off oxygen supply or inhale so deeply that it causes an embolism; or the pressurized gas from tanks can literally cause lungs to rupture.

Other speakers, including Harvey Weiss of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, discussed the impact of technology on inhalant use. Specifically referencing Gina the helium-huffing giraffe from an online game that, NIPC says, inadvertently encourages kids to inhale helium, talk funny and upload their videos. In response, the game maker, OUTFIT 7’s U.S. representative, Rebecca Silliman of SutherlandGold Group, informed NIPC “they will take down the helium huffing segment.”

“Helium is very dangerous and nobody knows about it,” Ashley’s step-father, Justin Earp, said. “Right now a four year old can go buy a balloon filled with helium and inhale it. They are handing them out without any warnings. A grandmother contacted us to say thank you for spreading the word. Her grandson had asked for four helium balloons for his birthday so he could talk like Donald Duck. Now he won’t get them.”

“Our homes are too often the source of dangerous drugs of abuse for young people,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Whether it’s prescription drugs or household products stored under the kitchen sink, parents should remember that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is safe. We encourage parents to visit http://www.TheAntiDrug.com to learn more about the dangers of huffing and what they can do to keep kids safe and healthy.”

Harvey Weiss, Executive Director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC), explained: “Unknowing adults demonstrate and often provide helium to kids at parties or science teachers use it in classes to demonstrate the effects of a gas on vocal cords. Gina the Giraffe was part of an online game. Even if kids did not get into the game, they saw Gina intentionally huffing helium for fun. Many other You Tube videos show how much fun it is to huff helium and demonstrate how to do it. For years I have heard ‘everybody does it’ and sure enough parents do it as well as scout leaders, science teachers and even youth pastors. This normalizing of huffing needs to stop and all of us can play a role in that. We must be advocates for children.”

“Prevention is key to reducing inhalant use and needs to involve parents, communities and teachers,” said Dr. David Shurtleff, acting deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Brian Dyak, president of the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc., said: “Educating children on the dangers of inhalants, and adults on the consequences of abuse of products in their own home, is an obligation we have within our society. When you consider one show, one accurate depiction, reaches millions and can be passed on through conversation and social media to an even broader audience, it becomes clear that we must work with members of the entertainment industry to spread awareness, and not turn away from the implications of misuse of products. However, this must be done carefully. The more accurate depictions and consequences we present, the more positive change we, as an industry, can create.”

Today’s press conference kicked-off the 20th Annual National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week (NIPAW), which runs March 18-24, 2012. NIPC gratefully acknowledges support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

About Entertainment Industries Council

EIC, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1983 by leaders of the entertainment industry to bring the power and influence of the industry to bear on communication about health and social issues. The organization is considered to be the chief pioneer of entertainment outreach and one of the premiere success stories in the field of entertainment education. EIC provides information resources for entertainment creators through innovative and time-proven services and methods of “encouraging the art of making a difference” from within the entertainment industry. EIC produces the simulcast national television special PRISM Awards Showcase which addresses accurate portrayals of prevention, treatment and recovery from drug, alcohol and tobacco use, and mental health concerns. The organization also produces the S.E.T Awards, honoring positive and non-stereotypical portrayals of science, engineering and technology.

EIC also addresses issues such as diabetes, ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, foster care, women’s health, firearm safety and injury prevention, sun safety and skin cancer prevention, human trafficking, terrorism and homeland security, eating disorders and obesity, seat belt use and traffic safety, and HIV/AIDS prevention. The organization has also launched an initiative to increase the public profile and interest in science, engineering and technology. EIC’s web site is http://www.eiconline.org. The PRISM Awards web site is http://www.prismawards.com.

National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) information is available on the Web at http://www.inhalants.org. NIDA inhalants information is available at http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov. ONDCP inhalant material is on the Web at http://www.TheAntiDrug.com. Ashley’s Hope, begun by the Earps, is on the Web at http://www.AshleysHope.org .

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