The supermarket item destroying kids’ lives
DESPERATE police have begged a major Cairns supermarket to remove a deodorant brand from their shelves amid spiralling chroming problems across the city.
Juvenile offenders are swarming Woolworths on Abbott St in the Cairns CBD on a daily basis and stealing up to 50 cans of Rexona per week to use for the dangerous inhaling practice.
The Cairns Post understands some youths have told police of their preference for the brand due to its "smooth" taste - particularly the "Sexy Bouquet" scent.
Cairns police Sen-Sgt Gary Hunter said they had requested the brand be taken off the shelves as they continue to crackdown on juvenile crime in the Cairns CBD.
A Woolworths spokeswoman would not confirm whether they were considering the move, but they treated product misuse "seriously".
"As always, we're working closely with police and community organisations to address any concerns around misuse and will continue to monitor the issue closely," she said.
Sen-Sgt Hunter said due to the intense police focus in the CBD, juvenile offending had now spiked in Earlville and Westcourt particularly where they were reportedly chroming before coming into town.
"There are a core group of problematic kids," he said.
"Among them are chromers, anti-social drinkers or youths that are engaging consistently in criminal behaviour.
"They are operating in groups who then join up with other groups."
Earlville's Barr St Markets maintenance and gardener Marcus Smith said he had seen the effects of chroming first-hand after watching an unconscious boy being taken away in an ambulance and seeing their violent behaviour while "high".
He has taken up the community awareness cause, speaking with Cairns MP Michael Healy and contacting the company which distributes Rexona.
"The catalyst was trying to remove five young children from a public toilet and within 24 hours one of those kids was in the back of an ambulance," he said.
"We have to sit down as a community and say we have a serious problem … what are we going to do about it."
Business owner Vince Pappalardo, who runs the WholeLife Pharmacy and Healthfoods at Earlville's Barr St markets, said he supported Mr Smith's cause and had seen the chroming effects first-hand in the area and his other pharmacy in Manoora.
"I don't know exactly what the solution is, but there needs to be some kind of youth program - not rehabilitation, but something that makes them appreciate how lucky they are to be alive," he said.
Cairns Hospital executive director of medical services, Dr Don Mackie said the risks of chroming were life threatening.
"One of the big risks, is it actually displaces the oxygen in the air," he said.
"Some people, who are getting intoxicated from huffing in a bag, they can end up with no oxygen in the bag they are breathing into.
"That's the immediate risk, having a lack of oxygen, which can lead to death.
"The second thing is, some of the compounds in there, can have an adverse affect on the heart, and make the heart very unstable."