Wiltshire Publications

More young people using ‘laughing gas’

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TOWN councillors asked a police representative about the use of nitrous oxide cannisters, by young people in the Westbury area.

The  colourless gas, or laughing gas, is bought in cannisters. When the gas is inhaled, it can make people feel euphoric and relaxed but can also  cause hallucinations, dizziness and passing out. In some cases there have been sudden death through lack of oxygen, and the effects of the gas can cause permanent nerve damage.

The use of cannisters is increasing because they are cheap and it is not illegal to buy the gas, which has legitimate uses such as numbing pain during medical procedures, and use in catering aerosol cans and engines.

The gas is covered by the Psychoactive Substances Act. After use, the cannisters often litter the ground.

At a recent virtual meeting of Westbury Town Council, town councillor, Ian Cunningham, said he was walking in Westbury Leigh and he picked up over 100 NOx caps. He asked police sergeant Kevin Harmsworth, who invited to join the discussion,  “How important do you view them?”

Sgt Harmsworth said, “We would like to know where these are being found. We do take this seriously.” He said there may be offences if the cannisters are being “supplied.”

Councillor Jane Russ said, “Do you know about the sports centre at Leighton Park? There are an awful lot of cannisters on the grass under the hedge.”

Sgt Harmsworth appealed for the public to call the police if they find cannisters, so they can follow up their distribution and use.