DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
Supermarket giant Woolworths is taking extraordinary steps to keep its deodorant cans in-store as the huffing crisis continues to wreak havoc on young lives across Australia.
Coles and Woolworths started locking up their deodorant can supplies last year in a number of Australian towns in a bid to stop inhalant and substance abuse.
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The practice, commonly known as huffing or chroming has become a worrying health issue in some regions, where people inhale the contents of deodorant cans to get high.
In towns where the abuse occurred, Woolies and Coles began locking their deodorant cans behind cages, or keeping them behind the service desk.
But since last year, all Woolworths have taken a more high-tech approach to keeping their cans on the shelves, as seen in a recent video taken at one of its supermarkets in Logan, west of Brisbane.
A recent TikTok video, posted by user @Randomness_Finds, revealed the way Woolies customers can purchase the cans.
They press a door bell, fused to the front of the glass doors and labelled 'press me for assistance'. © Provided by Daily Mail The glass cabinets are an easier option for staff, as opposed to keeping them behind the service desk, a Woolworths spokesperson said
The button calls for a staff member who then uses their finger print to unlock the glass doors so the customer can retrieve their chosen deodorant.
Woolworths began, on advice from local police and community groups, locking up their deodorant in some parts of the Northern Territory and in the Queensland town of Mount Isa in July last year.
That trial has since been expanded in Queensland, with a handful of stores in Brisbane, Cairns and the Gold Coast now taking part.
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'Theft of deodorants for the purpose of inhalant abuse has been reported as a community problem for some time,' Woolworths said in a statement.
Woolworths Queensland State Manager, Danny Baldwin, said the supermarket was working with local community groups and authorities.
'At Woolworths, we want to play our part in reducing the abuse of these products in Queensland,' he said.
'With these new cabinets, we’re hoping to significantly reduce the opportunity for misuse while continuing to offer access to the products where our customers expect to find them. © Provided by Daily Mail Shoppers ring the door bell for assistance and are then greeted by a staff member
'We’ll listen closely to feedback from our customers, team members and local community groups on the effectiveness of the trial over the coming months.
'We’ll also continue to explore further ways to help the broader community effort to address misuse.'
Queensland Police launched Project CASM (community against substance abuse) in 2019 in an attempt to stop inhalant abuse.
'Police have been working closely with a number of stakeholders to address volatile substance misuse,' they said in a statement.
'One of the key aims of CASM is to reduce harm to our vulnerable youth that are exposed to these volatile substances.'
The glass cabinet trial in Queensland comes just a few months after a teenage girl in the NSW town of Broken Hill was believed to have died from inhaling deodorant.
Assistant school principal Anne Ryan found her 16-year-old daughter Brooke dead in their home in Broken Hill, in far western NSW, on February 3.
Brooke, a gifted athlete and bright student, was lying face down with a can of deodorant and a tea towel beneath her.
Calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre about inhalant abuse nearly doubled between 2017 and 2020.
From 2010 to 2017, there were 50 to 60 calls on inhalants every year, but in 2018 it rose to 75, in 2019 to 96 and in 2020 to 107.
Around half of the calls concerned children younger than 11, and another 20 per cent were aged 12-18.
The median age of people who died due to inhalants is 23 and about 70 per cent are male.