The trade body representing the UK’s compressed gases industry has been recognised for its work in calling for a retail ban on nitrous oxide.

A public heath campaign by the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA), highlighted the dangers of abusing nitrous oxide – also known as ‘laughing gas’ – and called for a ban on retail sales of the product.

Now the BCGA’s work in raising public awareness has been recognised at the Memcom Awards 2021, with the trade body shortlisted in the Best Public Awareness Campaign accolade.

The BCGA’s call for a retail ban would allow nitrous oxide to continue to be used in commercial settings such as catering, medicine and industry, but would prevent sales direct to members of the public.

It is already an offense under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 to supply nitrous oxide for inhalation without an appropriate medical license and qualified supervision.
But ONS figures show the gas is the most commonly used substance by 16 to 24-year-olds after cannabis.*

Misuse of nitrous oxide can cause permanent damage in the central nervous system, leading to loss of peripheral feeling, motor control and even paralysis. It can also be fatal.

After working with the Government to ensure the inclusion of nitrous oxide in the 2016 Act, the BCGA launched the campaign for a ban on retail sales of the gas in 2020.

The campaign – which included press coverage, an information leaflet and a briefing document for MPs – reached millions of people across the UK, highlighting the public health issues relating to nitrous oxide and the reasoning behind the call for the retail ban.

“Our campaign has made great strides in raising public awareness of the misuse of nitrous oxide – and significantly advanced our cause in calling for a retail ban. If the Government legislates in line with our proposals, the supply of nitrous oxide would be protected for legitimate use in industry, food services and the health sector, while safeguarding against its misuse.”

Ellen Daniels – CEO, BCGA

More details on the Memcom awards, including the full list of finalists, can be found here.

*More details from the ONS on drug statistics here.

About BCGA

The ‘invisible industry’ underpinning a safe, successful and healthy nation – industrial and medical gases are essential to the existence and wellbeing of thousands of people in the UK every day.

Industrial gases perform a wide-ranging role, supporting the manufacture of information technology, as well as key UK industrial sectors including steelmaking, refining, welding, chemical processing and electronics. They also help keep homes warm, water clean and food nutritious, appealing and affordable – while medical gases play a critical role in applications including respiratory care, pain therapies and anaesthesia.

The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) is the UK membership body for this critical industry. With a commitment to stringent quality, safety and environmental measures, BCGA members employ 19,000 people directly and account for an annual turnover of £2.7 billion.

Members of BCGA operate in a highly regulated industry and work together on technical, safety, health and environmental issues to achieve high standards of integrity and environmental care, both within their own and customers’ working environments.

BCGA promotes safety practice through its publications and also participates in the preparation and revision of National, European and International Standards.

Press release issued by Jane Shepherd, Shepherd PR – 01335 368020

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