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Recreational abuse of laughing gas is not harmless fun

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ Joint Leads for Addictions and Substance Misuse, PCCs Dave Sidwick and Joy Allen, have welcomed the Home Secretary’s decision to write to the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to review the harm caused by nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas

They said: “The sight of little silver cannisters left strewn in our parks and other places has become an increasing annoyance in our communities. Police and Crime Commissioners are united in our efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and make our public spaces feel safe and welcoming for everyone.

“Of even greater concern is the damage that recreational use of nitrous oxide is doing to our young people, with more than half a million of them estimated to have used the drug in 2019/20. We already know that use of nitrous oxide can cause long-term health problems, and we are worried about it being a ‘gateway drug’ into even more serious issues.

“Banning possession of nitrous oxide would certainly send a strong message to young people – and their parents – that this is not harmless fun.

“But as with all substance abuse policy, what is needed is a mature discussion about the best way to protect our vulnerable people. As such we welcome the Home Secretary inviting the ACMD to draw up evidence-based recommendations.”

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