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Are launches of helium balloons seeing their dying days?

A renewed push by environmentalists to ban balloon launches around the globe has drawn the attention of a powerful industry group.
Local ALS patients, families, supporters and a medical team released balloons Tuesday to spread the message that a cure is still needed (WTHR photo)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A renewed push by environmentalists to ban balloon launches around the globe has drawn the attention of a powerful industry group.

The launches are often held to mark weddings, graduations, deaths and other milestones. Charities and nonprofit groups also stage them as part of fundraisers.

But a handful of states and a few communities around the globe have enacted laws that ban or restrict people from intentionally releasing helium-filled balloons. And others are considering similar proposals.

Critics call the balloons litter that poses a deadly threat to marine life, birds and other animals and hazards to power lines.

But the New Jersey-based Balloon Council, which represents manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, says banning launches unfairly hurts these small businesses. They believe educating consumers is better than having the "balloon police" enforce unnecessary laws.

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