My son experienced his first time being carded. No, he was not trying to buy alcohol; he wanted to buy a can of compressed air for a project.

Hearing that he was not allowed to purchase a can of compressed air was surprising. How on earth could selling a 17-year-old a can of compressed air be “illegal?”

I stopped by Office Depot (not the store son Charles went to) on the way home from work thinking I would find the cans of compressed air locked up or at least out of reach, similar to the way retail stores place liquor. Much to my surprise, the canned air was on a shelf in plain view.

The young cashier didn’t ask my age when I placed the can on the counter, maybe it was the graying beard that gave away that I am over 18. When asked, the cashier explained the sale of compressed air had been restricted for about four or five years.

A quick search on the Web turned up several stories about “huffing,” the inhalation of compressed air or other types of chemical fumes to get a high. A story from California detailed how a 14-year-old middle school honor student died from huffing only a few months ago.

If a teen is bound and determined to alter his state of mind, he will, even if it means doing something illegal such as smoking marijuana or sneaking a beer from the fridge or getting an older person to buy alcohol for him. Sadly the reckless ones who feel invincible could find out they are mere mortals.

Other substances restricted from purchase by minors include glues and other fume-emitting substances. The cashier also said that some spray whipped creams have age limits for their purchase. Such laws make me question whether age restrictions should be in place to purchase things such as compressed air, often used to clear dust from computer keyboards. Shouldn’t there be some personal responsibility that someone old enough, by law, to have an abortion without parental consent or even parental notification has the maturity to buy computer keyboard cleaner?


A friend sent a report to me about beer drinkers losing an interest in the taste of light beer, the most popular kind of brew in this country. A recent Consumer Edge Survey report shows that 40 percent of 21- to 27-year-olds surveyed said they were “getting tired of the taste of premium lights.”

So, those folks are turning to “craft beer” instead. I didn’t know what a craft beer was, but apparently it is defined as beer made in a brewery that produces no more than 6 million barrels a year, among other criteria. There are hundreds of them around the country. In Louisiana alone there are seven craft beer breweries: Abita and Covington Brewhouse in Covington; Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, New Orleans Beer Co. and New Orleans Lager and Ale Brewing in New Orleans; and two close to home, Bayou Teche Brewery in Arnaudville and Parish Brewing in Broussard.

Surprising to me was the company not on the list: Dixie Brewing Co. Of course after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Tulane Avenue brewery, it since has been made in Wisconsin, making the cleaner waters of the northern lakes give it a different flavor. It is difficult to believe it has grown to more than 6 million barrels, equal to 186 million gallons of beer, each year.

JEFF ZERINGUE is managing editor of The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at

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