Call for gas law reform
A SUFFOLK councillor has today called for tighter regulation of nitrous oxide after it emerged youths in Mendlesham are using the gas to “get high”.As reported in later editions of The Evening Star yesterday, youths in Mendlesham have taken to using potentially lethal nitrous oxide to get a euphoric buzz.
A SUFFOLK councillor has today called for tighter regulation of nitrous oxide after it emerged youths in Mendlesham are using the gas to “get high”.
As reported in later editions of The Evening Star yesterday, youths in Mendlesham have taken to using potentially lethal nitrous oxide to get a euphoric buzz.
New and used cartridges of the substance, commonly known as laughing gas, have been found in the village and the parish council has sent out letters to residents to flag up the issue.
Alarmingly, The Evening Star has discovered the substance is widely available on the internet.
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Jeremy Clover, county councillor for Upper Gipping, said he was concerned by news of the alarming trend and has called for tighter regulation of the substance, which is not illegal to possess.
“I think authorities should look at regulating this,” Mr Clover said.
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“If it is being misused there should be some steps taken.
“There must be a limited number of suppliers of this stuff and it should be quite simple to regulate.
“It is also a question of making parents aware of what their kids could be up to,” he added.
The ease with which nitrous oxide can be obtained became apparent when, within five minutes of searching, The Evening Star found several websites offering next day delivery of laughing gas canisters.
One boasted that it offered consumers “the very best value in high quality laughing gas” and sold a range of kits that contain “everything you need to whip up some fun”.
The site sells laughing gas kits featuring a number of “chargers” and a laughing gas dispenser from £31.95 for a small party kit to £268.95 for the largest kit which contains 1,000 “chargers”.
The website warns people to “never attempt to do the gas straight into your mouth” and “always use a balloon as the gas comes out too cold” as it “can cause damage to your mouth, throat and lungs” if inhaled directly.
Other websites offered similar products.
Nitrous oxide can induce euphoria and mild hallucinations when inhaled but has a number of associated health risks.
These can include nausea, eye disorders and blood cell damage as well as, in extreme circumstances, death.
A number of fatalities from asphyxia as a result of inhalation have been recorded, predominantly when some sort of bag is used to assist the inhalation process.
A letter has been sent to Mendlesham residents from the parish council raising the issue and stating that police have been made aware of the situation and are looking into it.
Fast facts: Nitrous oxide
n>It is understood the cartridges, which can be used to make whipped cream, are being sold to youngsters from the back of a vehicle.
n>Youths use the gas cartridges to inflate balloons before inhaling the substance through the mouth.
n>Nitrous oxide can be sold legally if the seller has a special licence but there is no offence of possession of the gas.
n>The substance is also known as hippy crack, cartridges, whippets and nos.
n>Nitrous oxide is a colourless, slightly sweet-smelling gas with a short-acting disorienting effect.
n>The gas is most commonly used as an anesthetic in dentistry and a propellant in the food industry (e.g. in whipping cream).
n>Nitrous oxide can be breathed through a mask, cone, or more commonly, a balloon.
n>Inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister can cause frostbite of the nose, lips and vocal chords.