Police are trying to establish whether the death of a man
whose body was found in Dunedin's Botanic Garden this morning
is the latest in a spate of "huffing" deaths.
Sergeant Dave Scott said the 27-year-old man's body was found
near canisters of "a gas that is commonly misused for
"There is evidence at the scene that suggests that he was
inhaling some sort of gas."
However, the cause of death had yet to be established and the
matter was referred to the coroner.
"The likelihood is there will be a post-mortem performed on
the deceased to find out exactly what's gone on."
Mr Scott said police had established he was an unemployed man
who had been living in Dunedin but had links to the North
His family were being informed.
In September, Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean released a
report on "huffing", inhalation of gas to get high, which
found 63 people had died in butane inhalation-related
incidents since 2000.
He criticised the Government for not doing enough nothing to
stop a "lost generation" of youths from killing themselves by
sniffing butane-based solvents.
"This is an insidious and extremely dangerous activity that
is predominantly killing young males," he said.
Judge MacLean launched an an urgent review into the practice
after two Mosgiel teenagers were critically injured in July
when an LPG cylinder they were believed to have been huffing
New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said
the scale of the problem was starting to be realised due to
Judge MacLean's report.
"If that's the number of deaths that would just be the tip of
the ice berg."
He said it was a very challenging issue because the people
who tended to use the substances were often marginalised.
"They've often been kicked out of school, disengaged from
their friends and family, some of them are homeless, so
there's a whole lot of complexities wrapped in with the
"Quite often people aren't aware of the risks and even if
they are they persist in using the products anyway. That's
one of the major challenges."
The Drug Foundation was working with retailers to try and
inform them about their responsibilities in selling
butane-based products. Some retailers have already moved to
ban sales of butane-based products to young people.