On just one Saturday night in a trendy part of London, over a thousand tiny empty silver canisters were confiscated from club-goers by police.
At Pride festival this year in Brighton, revellers discarded thousands of laughing gas canisters and balloons on Brighton beach after the festivities, leading to criticism by environmentalists.
Nitrous gas is commonly called ‘laughing gas’, 'nox' or 'hippy crack' and is the same drug given to women during childbirth or those having certain dental procedures.
And despite its reputation as a ‘soft drug’, nitrous oxide for recreational use is on the rise, and there are now calls for clearer information campaigns to educate young people about its long-term effects.
According to Irish legislation, it is illegal to sell this substance for human consumption. It’s also illegal to consume it under the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010. However, because of its use in the catering industry, the gas can be purchased in large quantities online with relative ease.
The HSE says it is monitoring the current trend which has become increasingly popular among festival-goers.
In a statement issued to IMAGE.ie, the HSE says that the risks associated with laughing gas have prompted action here. "During summer 2019, we launched an online survey in partnership with Trinity College Dublin to gather data on drug trends and harm reduction among Irish festival attendees. Unpublished preliminary data from over 1,000 respondents would indicate that use is an emerging issue among Irish festival-goers.
"As with many other substances, the quality and purity of nitrous oxide depends on the source. There are a number of risks associated with use, and it is known that death from suffocation or lack of oxygen can occur.
"Because of these risks, the HSE will include information regarding the associated risks and how to reduce the harms as part of our festival campaign work in 2020
Source: Amanda Cassidy, Image.ie, 13/01/19