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Nitrous Oxide to be banned in the UK

Nitrous Oxide to be banned in the UK

The sale of laughing gas, or nitrous oxide that comes in small canisters and can be seen strewn about city streets and music festivals, is to be banned in the UK, after an increased usage of the substance spurred on by lockdown, particularly among young age groups.

The banning of the substance in the UK will include enhanced drug-testing powers given to the police as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s antisocial behaviour crackdown plan.

The ban comes after the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned against ban and said it would be disproportionate with the level of harm associated with nitrous oxide, saying such control could create “significant burdens” for legitimate uses of the substance.

Nitrous oxide, is the second most commonly used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in England after cannabis and there are concerns about health problems caused by prolonged usage.

“To reduce risks, this government should sensibly direct resources towards risk education for vulnerable groups, and restrict sales of the bigger nitrous canisters that have no legitimate use,” says Steve Rolles, of Transform Drug Policy Foundation. “To reduce litter, it could adopt a recycling deposit scheme for nitrous canisters. Criminalising possession of nitrous oxide will increase health and social harms associated with it, creating new costs across the criminal justice system.”

The Chairman of the Night Time Industries Assocation, Michael Kill said:
“We welcome the announcement by the Government today that Nitrous oxide is set to be banned under new government plans to clamp down on anti-social behaviour. The industry has faced a long standing battle with the sale and use of this drug, with the current legislation leaving licensees and authorities powerless to tackle the problem.” Businesses have been put under immense pressure by Police, local authorities and residents as a result of streets being littered with silver canisters, exposing staff and customers to petty crime, anti-social behaviour and organised crime gangs.” The intervention by the Government has come at a critical time, as businesses in major cities across the UK have seen the challenges around nitrous oxide escalate dramatically in the last 6-12 months.”

While it is illegal to sell it in Ireland, Nitrous Oxide is easily obtained online. An Irish doctor says that laughing gas abuse leading to neurological damage.

Nitrous Oxide info page on