UK trade body the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) has issued new guidance outlining the dangers posed by abuse of nitrous oxide.

The new guide underpins BCGA’s call for a ban on retail sales of the gas, which would make it only available to those purchasing it for legitimate use such as in medicine, dentistry, or catering.

Read more: BCGA calls for nitrous oxide ban in the UK

Also known as laughing gas, nitrogen oxide has become the second most commonly used substance among 16- to 24-year-olds.

In 2019, half a million young people had used nitrous oxide, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and 12% of substance-related deaths mentioned nitrogen or nitrous oxide on the death certificate. 

“Inhalation of nitrous oxide is highly dangerous. Many of those who inhale it do not appreciate its harm, partly because of slang terms which trivialise its use such as laughing gas, noz and balloons,” said Ellen Daniels, CEO of the BCGA.

“The abuse of nitrous oxide, aided by the ease of obtaining and ready availability of the cartridges, is a blight on our society.”

“Nitrous oxide has legitimate uses in the medical, food, chemical and sports industries, which is why we are calling on the Government to introduce a straightforward ban on consumer sales.”

The guide can be found here.