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Southampton Town bans sales of helium balloons


Balloon ban begins next June Getty Images

On Tuesday June 22, Southampton City Council passed a resolution banning the purchase and distribution of lighter-than-air gas-filled balloons. The resolution proved that the council was ready to go further than existing legislation, which had forbidden the deliberate release of such balloons in the air.

Supporters of the new law, such as the Southampton Sustainability Committee, have said the ban on light gas-filled balloons will help Southampton’s environment.

“We have all seen the devastating images of marine animals that have washed up on our beaches after ingesting balloons or getting tangled in the strings attached to the balloons,” said Southampton City Councilor John Bouvier, who serves liaison with the sustainability committee.

Another intended effect of the ban is to preserve helium, a gas common in balloons but which also has vital medical use. Liquid helium is used in many medical testing machines, such as MRI scanners, to cool superconducting magnets.

Most of Southampton have already spoken in favor of passing such a balloon ban. A 2020 poll by the Commission found that 66% of residents were in favor of “banning the sale, distribution and release” of balloons filled with lighter-than-air gases.

After the official change in legislation, Dieter von Lehsten, co-chair of the sustainability committee, congratulated the board of directors for their efforts. “The pollution created by these balloons on our beaches and our parks, in addition to the havoc they create for our wildlife on land, and in particular in the ocean, needed a strong message, which you delivered”, said von Lehsten.

The new law will come into force on June 1, 2022.