The UK’s trade body for the compressed gases sector is calling for the UK to follow the Netherlands and introduce a ban on the retail sale of Nitrous Oxide.

The Dutch government announced the sale and possession of so-called ‘laughing gas’ would be banned from January, with exceptions for medicinal and food production use.

The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) has been campaigning for a similar retail ban on Nitrous Oxide since March 2020.

In September 2021, BCGA had dialogue with then-Home Secretary Priti Patel, who announced a request had been made to the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review Nitrous Oxide and its status in law.

This October, the BCGA wrote to Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP reiterating calls for a ban, and receiving assurance from Rt Hon Chris Philip MP, Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire at the Home Office, that the Government will consider ACMD’s advice carefully before deciding how to proceed.

BCGA Chief Executive, Ellen Daniels, said: “The Dutch government has recognised the dangers of Nitrous Oxide and introduced a ban on the possession and sale of it to consumers, while protecting its use in medical, industrial and catering settings.

“This is very much in line with the action we have been urging the UK government to take in order to drive down the abuse of the gas.

 “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.”

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: Deaths related to volatile substances and helium in Great Britain – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

The BCGA has a webpage dedicated to gas abuse: Gas Abuse – (bcga.co.uk) where a leaflet outlining the dangers of misusing Nitrous Oxide can be downloaded.

06/2022