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State's New Cough Medicine Sale Restrictions Take Effect

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A law passed with little fanfare is now in effect restricting teens under the age of 18 from buying cough syrup on their own. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

It's not unheard of that kids use household items to get high.

"Cough medicine, crazy glue, the aerosol cans, all that stuff," says Annette Cimato, an East Rockaway parent.

But it just became a bit harder for kids to get their hands on cough medicine. A new state law is now in effect banning all retail stores from selling cough medicine with the active ingredient dextromethorphan or DXM without a prescription, to kids under the age of 18.

"We know kids either get this product at home, they go out and buy it or they steal it. So the two things that we can do is at least control the sales and the stealing by making it under control in the retail settings," says Steve Pasierb, President & CEO of Partnership at DrugFree.org.

Drugfree.org is one of several groups promoting the "Stop Medicine Abuse" campaign, working to inform parents of the danger facing kids who abuse cough medicines.

DXM works by raising the coughing threshold in the brain.

Among other side effects, when abused it can cause vomiting, disorientation, dizziness, numbness, and impaired coordination. And when mixed with other drugs can even be deadly. About four percent of teens admit to abusing it.

"What you found is that clear divide. Kids who've done it and thought it was the stupidest way to get high and kids who've done it and said, 'Eh, if there's nothing else around, I'll keep doing it,'" says Pasierb.

The goal of the new law is to make sure that fewer kids start abusing cough syrups and to alert parents to keep these drugs, under lock and key.

"This is one of those drugs that younger kids tend to experiment with. It's easy to find," says Pasierb.

The law may be an inconvenience for some, but the mothers who spoke with NY1 think it's the right move.

"I understand why they would do that, but at the same time, for example, if they really need the medicine if they're sick and their parents can't take them to the store to get it, I think they should be able to get their own cough medicine," says Antoine Smith of The Bronx.

"If they need a prescription we'll go get a prescription if they're not feeling good. Yea I have no problem with that at all," says Valerie Massaro of Long Island.

For more information, visit http://stopmedicineabuse.org/tools-to-take-action/parents.

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