03 Feb 2023
According to a report by the BBC, laughing gas is now categorised as a class C drug, possession of laughing gas for its "psychoactive effects" will carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.
The government says the ban will combat anti-social behaviour and reduce damage to users' health.
The BBC said, laughing gas cannisters, are one of the most widely used recreational drugs by young people in the UK. It is said that they are continuing to rise in popularity and the cannisters are getting bigger and bigger.
The small silver cannisters, also known as Nos or Nitrous Oxide, holding around 8g (0.28oz) of the substance, are being swapped to a supersize version, around 80 times bigger.
Experts say that supersize ones can pose more of a risk as it can lead to people using higher and more dangerous quantities.
The gas cannisters can have detrimental effects. A young girl the BBC interviewed used the larger gas cannisters but spoke about how she felt she couldn’t judge how much she was inhaling and preferred the smaller size. Her prolonged use of the smaller laughing gas cannisters has now left her unable to move or have any sensation in her legs.
She spoke about other side effects from using the gas ranging from vomiting, sweating, suppressing her appetite and insomnia.
Currently in the UK, being in possession of a larger cannister isn’t illegal or against the law. A government commissioned review is assessing whether further action is needed.
Many youngsters using the larger size Nos can find it available from people on social media. The smaller size can be bought on internet giants such as Amazon and eBay, although these are advertised as only being sold for food preparation.
The Mirror said they found a Smartwhip available from £33.99 for a single canister to £149.99 for a pack of six on Amazon and eBay.
Amazon said: “Our selling guidelines make it clear that nitrous oxide canisters are only allowed to be sold in our store if they are intended for food preparation. We have a number of proactive measures to prevent abuse. ”
An eBay spokesman said: “We do not prohibit the sale of these products because they have legitimate uses in commercial catering applications.
“However, we do remove listings that refer to any illicit uses.”
The Home Office is preparing to introduce a long-expected ban on the sale or possession of nitrous oxide, one of the most popular recreational drugs among young people, as part of a wider crackdown on antisocial behaviour.
The plan is being pushed by the home secretary, Suella Braverman, according to officials, and would lead to people found with laughing gas, which is usually inhaled from balloons filled through small metal cylinders, facing prosecution.
Discarded nitrous oxide cylinders are a ubiquitous sight on high streets and at festivals, with almost one in 10 16- to 24-year-olds reporting having taking the drug in 2019-20.
While supplying nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects is already illegal under 2016 legislation, the gas has legitimate uses, primarily for the production of whipped cream or for freezing food, and it is widely available online.
According to the Times, a UK ban would be tied to a wider crackdown on antisocial behaviour, given the numbers of discarded cylinders seen every weekend.
In recent news reported by The Sun, footballers have been caught using nos for recreational purposes since it has been made illegal in the UK.
A study comparing the harms of laughing gas to other recreational substances found it was considered more harmful than "poppers" for drug-related dependence, environmental damage and relative impairment of mental functioning, while poppers were more harmful for drug-related mortality, injury and damage.
In the year ending June 2022, 3.9% of 16-24-year-olds reported using nitrous oxide, equivalent to about 230,000 people, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
Find out more about Nitous Oxide Addiction and the signs, symptoms and causes.