Friday, May 6, 2016

Save our balloons!

California is in the process of trying to ban sales of all foil/metallic balloons. 

This is serious folks!

This bill would totally ban the sale and use of helium-filled metallic balloons in the State of California, as of January 1, 2018.

•Selling and distributing balloons made of, or attached to, electrically conductive materials would be punished as follows:
–A first offence is punished as an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250; and
–A second subsequent offence is punishable as a misdemeanour/criminal act.

•The bill will wreak economic havoc and possibly destroy hundreds of balloon and party businesses.

•Legislation in California can have a ripple effect on other states and will severely hurt anyone in the balloon business

22,000 jobs are dependent on balloon sales in California, and 60,000,000 foil balloons are sold annually in the state. Direct and indirect sales from balloons are estimated to be nearly $1.1 billion. (Source:

If you live outside of California, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about or why balloons are such a big problem in California.

The issue all started over 30 years ago when the random release of helium-filled foil balloons caused some very serious power outages. Proponents of the ban suggest that balloon-related outages cost Californians millions of dollars each year, but they don’t provide much information on how they calculate that number.

In 1990 the California State Legislature passed SB 1990, a compromise bill supported by the balloon industry enacting a law to regulate the sales and use of helium-filled foil balloons. The law was passed in an effort to reduce power outages related to balloons.

In short, to be in accordance with the California Balloon Law and reduce electrical power incidents, all retail shops that sell balloons should follow the guidelines below:

Weight all helium-filled foil balloons.
Tie all ribbons to the weight so if they are released they will float away individually. DO NOT tie ribbons together before attaching to weight. Tie them to the weight with one knot each.
Do not use metallic ribbon with helium-filled balloons.

The balloon industry has promoted these standards throughout the world, and it is working to ensure these Smart Balloon Practices are known and implemented by everyone who sells balloons.

In 2008, the issue resurfaced and a California legislator proposed to ban the sale of all foil balloons by the year 2010, once again due to the claimed increased number of power outages. An opposition grassroots campaign, “Save Our Balloons,” was set up by florists, special events planners, and small businesses to fight this new bill. Once again, due to the strong opposition, a compromise bill was passed. Because of the state’s financial crisis, the governor vetoed all “non-essential” bills and the California Balloon Law has remained the same since 1990.

So here we are again, faced with the same frightening ban that could truly affect our industry worldwide!

 So what can we do?

If you live in California, please reach out to your legislator and let them know how important balloons are to you and that you oppose AB 2709. The Balloon Council has made it easy to do so through its website ( featuring letter templates that can be customized and easily sent to your Assembly representative. The same site also makes it easy to find your representative’s contact information, and the Council is encouraging constituents to set up personal meetings with their legislators to make the point even more strongly.

Regardless where you live, we should all follow Smart Balloon Practices. This is was program introduced several years ago by the Balloon Council. This campaign was developed to serve several purposes: educate consumers in the proper handling of balloons, stress the importance of never releasing helium-filled foil balloons, maintain and nurture the public’s positive feeling about balloons, and prevent anti-balloon legislation attempts in the future. Smart Balloon Practices is a global awareness effort, not just limited to California or the United States. All members if the worldwide balloon industry - manufacturers, distributors, decorators, party retailers, entertainers - have a shared responsibility to enforce and promote the campaign.

For those in Europe, there is another very similar initiative that was launched earlier this year by the European Balloon and Party Council - Code of Best Practice Balloons.

Both of these organisations offer you the opportunity to sign up for their programs free of charge. As a member, you promise to follow and abide by the rules of being a Responsible Balloon Retailer and that you will actively promote the fun use of balloons in respect to the environment, and ensure consumers know where to look for further information.

As a Responsible Balloon Retailer, I promise to:

Include a weight with all foil balloons I sell.
Never attach metallic ribbon to helium-filled balloons.
Refrain from tying helium-filled foil balloons to prevent clustering.
Ask about latex allergies when selling latex balloons.
Educate customers about Smart Balloon Practices.
Never release foil balloons.
Always supervise young children, and don't allow them to play with deflated balloons.
Properly dispose of balloons. Cut balloons with scissors directly about the knot or sealing point and immediately place in trash container

If you see retailers with RBR decals in their window who do not practice the above code of smart practices, please call 800-233-8887.

By signing up to the Balloons program, you agree to encourage and advise on the following:

Supervise children under the age of 8 years old with balloons.
Always use a balloon pump to inflate your balloons.
Only sell helium-filled balloons with ribbon & weight attached.
When you're done, cut the end of the balloon with a pair of scissors and dispose of the spent balloon in a bin.
Advise consumers to never release balloons into the atmosphere.
Make consumers aware that latex may cause allergies.

Each of these programs offers downloadable materials that can be used to promote these best practices. 

For more information regarding each of these programs, follow these links:

Don't delay, please sign up if you have not already done so and follow these rules and educate our customers. Let us prove to the world that we are a responsible industry that really does care.
Let's keep on Ballooning... responsibly, please!



Unknown said...

Like most issues, the problem lies with people buying balloons in party stores and not caring about those making a living from balloons. I recently commented on a YouTube video where over a 100 people were releasing foil balloons in the shape of doves..Hundreds!

Someone I know who's been in the balloon industry many years provided 300 balloons for a release - all were attached to a 6 feet length of raffia... I argued that although the the raffia was bio-degradeable, 6 feet was much too long. He disagreed. As we watched the mass of people release on queue, we noticed a group had gathered private and had attached 12 to 15 together and released in a bunch... These are the people that cause the government to get involved - not the retailers. You can't fix stupid.

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