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Warning about the long term risks of nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

Published on Monday, 13th July 2020

The misuse of nitrous oxide, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’ has become a widespread problem since the outbreak of COVID-19.

There has been a spike in the number of discarded canisters in parks and public areas and locally, we have seen an increase in discarded canisters and anti-social behaviour as a result of misuse.

Covid-19 restrictions have meant that usual recreational activities for youngsters in the Borough have been unavailable and concerns are that some of these children have started to experiment with nitrous oxide.

Nuneaton and Bedworth Safer Communities Partnership (NABSCOP) is working with Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and Compass – a local charity who support youngsters with substance misuse issues - to raise awareness around the risks of using nitrous oxide, the law around psychoactive substances and issues associated with clearing of littered canisters. WCC trading standards are also working with Warwickshire Police to tackle retail outlets selling the gas inappropriately.

Despite the increasing use of nitrous oxide, particularly amongst younger people, far too few know about the risks. Its use can lead to long-term damage. Along with physical effects such as dizziness, burns, confusion and even nerve damage, there are also psychological impacts associated with the abuse of any substance which can ultimately lead to addiction.

By providing information about the risks, as well as services who can provide help and advice, we hope to deter young people from using this dangerous substance and provide some valuable resources for parents to use when talking to their children.

Compass have put together presentations and sessions using online platforms to highlight the damages of misuse and also to provide advice to young people and parents.  Visit compass-uk.org/services/warwickshire-cypdas/ to find out more. Compass will also be running 2 Q&A sessions on Facebook here on the 14 July - one at 12pm & 8pm to suit all.

To report finds of canisters and related litter please contact NBBC on 02476 376376

You can also report retail outlets selling nitrous oxide please contact the WCC Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm or visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/contactustradingstandards