Following its campaign to ban sales of laughing gas, or nitrous oxide (N2O), starting in March 2020, the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) has seen the British Government’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, write to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) asking for a review of the harm caused by abuse of the gas.

Patel said that N2O had been a source of concern for some time, thus prompting the review. Ellen Daniels, Chief Executive of the BCGA agreed with her views, welcoming the review which could see unlawful possession of the gas becoming a crime.

The campaign aims to remove the 8g cartridges of N2O from the streets, while protecting legitimate uses in industries such as healthcare and catering.

She continued, “After cannabis, nitrous oxide is the most commonly used substance among 16 to 24-year-olds and misusing it can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system including loss of peripheral feeling, loss of motor control and paralysis.”

“In some cases, it can be fatal.”

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), half a million young people had used N2O in 2019 alone, with 12% of substance-related deaths mentioning nitrogen or N2O on the death certificate.

The ACMD will examine the potential harm caused by the gas and decide whether it should be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.