Manufacturers of laughing gas demand a sales ban to prevent misuse
According to manufacturers, a ban is urgently needed to prevent people from purchasing and abusing laughing gas.
The provision of nitrous oxide for inhalation with knowledge or recklessness is already prohibited by the Psychoactive Substances Act.
However, the British Compressed Gases Association has now requested a ban on all direct consumer sales in a letter to the new Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
Nitrous oxide is second only to cannabis in terms of frequency of abuse among 16–24-year olds in England.
Nitrous oxide, a colourless gas that is frequently marketed in small metal canisters, is employed as a propellant, such as in whipped cream dispensers.
Large canisters of it are also used in hospitals and dental offices to give people anaesthesia that they inhale.
Some people who abuse the drug, sometimes known as “hippy crack,” inhale it through a balloon or use a dispenser or “cracker.”
A vitamin deficit brought on by frequent heavy use may result in severe, irreversible nerve damage and long-term paralysis.
However, breathing in the gas directly from a huge canister is especially risky and potentially lethal because it is under such high pressure and emerges at such a low temperature, which can harm the throat and lungs, stop breathing, and cause the heart to slow to a dangerously low level.
A Home Office representative said: “Nitrous oxide supply for its psychotropic effects is illegal, and offenders could get a maximum seven-year prison sentence.
“The former home secretary requested guidance from the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) last year due to concerns regarding the use of nitrous oxide by young people.
The government will carefully consider the recommendations when the ACMD responds.
The Misuse of Drugs Act, which includes narcotics including cocaine, cannabis, and sleeping pills, is being considered by the ACMD as to whether the gas should be subject to its provisions.