UK & World News
Laughing Gas Crackdown Amid 'Disturbing' Craze
A "deeply disturbing" laughing gas craze sweeping the country is being fuelled by internet videos that glamorise use of the substance, council leaders say.
Hauls of canisters are confiscated from UK streets every night, with one London council - Hackney - seizing 1,200 on one Saturday alone.
Officials in Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Thames Valley have also reported increasing numbers of canisters being found.
Council leaders are so concerned they have launched a campaign to highlight the dangers of the chemical.
In particular, the Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for web giants, such as YouTube, to crack down on internet videos which promote the use of laughing gas.
The association, which represents around 400 councils in England and Wales, said it was "deeply disturbing" that people widely view nitrous oxide as a "safe" legal high.
And the LGA warned that the chemical - which is regularly taken at nightspots, festivals and parties by almost half a million young people across the country - has been linked to a number of deaths.
It said abusing nitrous oxide can lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in loss of blood pressure, fainting and even heart attacks.
"It is deeply disturbing that this drug, which can be highly dangerous, is still widely viewed as safe," said Katie Hall, chairwoman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board.
"It is imperative that users understand just how harmful it can be. This gas can kill and much more needs to be done to get this message across.
"We are particularly concerned about internet pages and uploaded clips which are effectively 'promoting' this as a harmless drug.
"The web giants must do more to crack down on this, they cannot simply sit on their hands and ignore what is happening on their own sites.
"We are calling on the big internet corporations to step up to the plate and show responsibility by providing health warnings and links to drug awareness charities."
While inhaling nitrous oxide is not illegal, council officers are able to seize canisters under unauthorised street trading regulations.