Ministers prepare ban on laughing gas in crackdown

Rosie Duffield calls for tightening on laughing gas laws

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Ministers are hoping to pass plans which will ban the sale and possession of laughing gas in an attempt to tackle antisocial behaviour. The proposals from ministers will revise the drug misuse laws following a rise in the supply and recreational use of the drug, particularly by young people.

Those with a “legitimate reason” will be exempt from prosecution, such as chefs who use the gas for whipped cream or chilling and freezing foods.

The gas is also widely used in dentistry and on maternity wards as pain relief for surgery and childbirth.

Current laws under the Psychoactive Substances Act bans the reckless supply of laughing gas for inhalation.

However, a ban on all direct consumer sales has been proposed by the British Compressed Gases Association alongside a tightening of laws for those without “legitimate” exemption.

Policing minister Chris Philp is pushing to fast-track an independent review by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs into nitrous oxide.

Mr Philp hopes it will be brought forward to April so the Government can take action once the findings of the investigation have been reported.

It is thought that the Government may make an official announcement alongside the findings as part of its strategy to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Under this timeline, it is thought that the legislation changes which will be introduced in order to create change around the use of the drug will be introduced by the summer.

Laughing gas has become the second most commonly misused drug with 16 to 24-year-olds in England after cannabis.

People misuse the drug due to the side-effects of relaxation, mild euphoria, and happiness which results in giggling and laughing.

It can also see people experience mild hallucinations, a heavy feeling in the limbs and potentially a tingling sensation.

However, the dangers of the drug can range from lowered blood pressure to heart attacks and a fatal loss of oxygen known as hypoxia.

It can also cause nerve damage, paralysis, memory loss, psychosis and limb spasms.

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Compared to other drugs, laughing gas is cheaper to purchase and more easily obtained.

Doctors warned last year that health problems related to the misuse of the drug have soared in numbers and severity.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ordered the crackdown on the drug after a poll of the public found growing concern amid the increased presence of the gas cannisters littered in streets and parks.

A source told The Times: “There is a clear view that we have to act. There is a clear link between the use of nitrous oxide and antisocial behaviour and this is a top priority for the government.”

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