BROOKLINE, Mass. - They've been party staples for decades, but if a proposed bill becomes law, helium balloons would be banned across the state.
Party Favors has been on Beacon Street for 28 years. One of the items a local business owner has always been selling is helium balloons – you simply can't buy them online. But if this bill becomes law, he says keeping his business afloat will be a struggle.
"The best part of a party is the cake and the balloons," said John Bergantis, the owner of Party Favors in Brookline.
For Bergantis, balloons are big business.
"At least I'd say like 20% of the store is balloons," he said.
That's why a bill banning helium balloons floated by a state representative from Provincetown has him feeling deflated.
"First time I heard about it, I didn’t think it was real," he said.
If passed into law, the bill would ban the sale, distribution and release of helium balloons to protect the environment from pollution and sea animals from ingesting or getting tangled in the trash.
Bergantis says he understands the reason for the bill – he's even posted a warning for customers. But he says the law would only punish small business owners like him.
"The consumer has to be educated about how to dispose of the balloons," he said. "If you don't educate them, it's a problem."
It's the second blow for the balloon industry. A global helium shortage forced Bergantis to begin filling some balloons with an air compressor instead. But because of the weight, those need to be fastened to objects.
"Air balloons are not the same thing, they're definitely not the same," he said.
That’s why, for the sake of his shop, he hopes the bill is shot down.
"It'll definitely hurt if that happens," Bergantis said. "It'll definitely hurt business if balloons just all of a sudden [are] not allowed to sell in Massachusetts."
If passed, the bill would fine violators $100. The item is under review by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
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