The trade organization representing the UK’s compressed gas industry has required the government to impose an “absolute ban” on the sale of nitrous oxide – also known as “nitrous oxide”.
The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) says that nitrous oxide abuse can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system, cause paralysis, and even be fatal.
The gas is usually sold in small metal canisters that are often transferred into an inhalation balloon.
Calls for tighter restrictions on nitrous oxide sales have increased during the coronavirus pandemic as British teens are looking for ‘fast lockdown highs’.
According to a BCGA report, the gas was now the second most used substance among 16 to 24 year olds in England after cannabis, at half a million in 2019.
It added that 12% of the substance-related deaths reported nitrogen or nitrous oxide on the death certificate.
The issue of sales restriction was discussed in Parliament on Tuesday evening, with MPs calling for action to combat the problem.
Labor’s Rosie Duffield said laughing gas was ‘no laughing matter’ and boxes of buses could be bought for just £ 5.
The BCGA represents more than 100 companies involved in the supply of industrial, medical, food and gas and related equipment.
Ellen Daniels, director of the BCGA, has written to the Minister of the Interior requesting a total ban on the sale of the gas.
“Recreational inhalation abuse of nitrous oxide occurs in the UK,” says Daniels.
“Improper use can seriously damage the health and livelihood of users and can be fatal.”
The BCGA said it would be “pleased” to work with the relevant authorities to find the best way to enforce a ban.