Poppers in France
France, spring-summer 2013. To celebrate the new legal framework for same-sex marriage, poppers based on isopropyl nitrite are allowed be sold again in France. For a long time they caused great legal confusion during the reign of Sarkozy, followed by the government of François Fillon who tried to ban them several times due to the association with drugs. These decisions were repeatedly revoked by the Council of State because they were interpreted as “excessive and disproportionate measures related to the risks” of poppers to the health of consumers. Alkyl nitrite, on the other hand, remains banned because it is really dangerous when used together with Viagra, for example. The Ayrault government apparently assumes that poppers’ users are mature enough to assess the possible risk of poppers for themselves. That’s only fair because they are usually much more experienced than ministers and their assistants, who happily utter cliches about all the things they escape in real life.
The history of poppers dates back to the 19th century when they were used for medicinal purposes to treat heart problems and chest pains. In the early 1970s, they became popular as a sex enhancer, both among homosexuals and straight users. Poppers facilitate penetration and enhance masturbation and orgasms. They also have muscle relaxant effects and give a euphoric, blissful feeling. They cause warm sensations, make people laugh and arouse sexual instinct, like any other good aphrodisiac. Poppers also act as a dilator. Hence, they are widely used for anal sex. People sometimes think of them as a special kind of aromatherapy because they are mood-boosting when inhaled or aromatically dispersed in a room. During the disco and techno years, they have been mistaken for drugs as some ravers used them along with ecstasy pills. Compared to ecstasy pills, the effect of poppers is much shorter. This makes them much safer and more accessible.