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County Council launches campaign on dangers of laughing gas

A new digital campaign "Where's the Harm? – Nitrous Oxide " has been launched by Lancashire County Council which aims to raise awareness of the harms associated with inhaling nitrous oxide gas also known as laughing gas. It is primarily aimed at young people but also offers supporting information for parents.

Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas, mostly found in pressurised metal canisters for the purposes of food production. Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational drug use is illegal. This means anyone found to be selling, possessing to sell, or giving away nitrous oxide to be inhaled as a drug could face up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine. It is legal to possess for personal use – but usage does come with risks.

Where's the harm? Nitrous oxide is inhaled by transferring gas from small silver canisters into a container (usually a balloon). The empty canisters have become a familiar sight on streets and in parks across Lancashire.

It can cause dizziness, nausea, hallucinations and acts as a depressant. Mixing nitrous oxide with other substances increases the risks, as do underlying health conditions, and improper use. For instance, inhaling directly from the canister can cause suffocation, frostbite and even death.

The key messages of the campaign are:

Laughing gas might be considered a legal high but there are still risks involved.
Heavy regular use can have a long-term impact on health including possible anaemia and nerve damage.
Lancashire Trading Standards are spearheading the campaign in order to raise awareness of the harm of taking "laughing gas"

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Cabinet member for community and cultural services, said "I am pleased that Lancashire Trading Standards are spearheading the campaign to raise awareness of the harm of taking Nitrous Oxide. Laughing gas might be considered a 'legal high' but there are still major health risks involved and its supply for recreational drug use is illegal."

County Councillor Michael Green, Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, added "Whilst it might look like fun and everyone looks to be having a good time, young people who take these substances are taking exceptional risks with their health. Heavy regular use can have a long-term impact including possible anaemia and nerve damage. It is important that young people and their parents are aware of these dangers."

More information on the harm and risks can be found at www.lancashire.gov.uk/lancan/parents-information/nitrous-oxide/ 

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