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‘No laughing matter’ campaign launches

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A safety campaign warning that the use of nitrous oxide is no laughing matter has been launched.

Dudley Council is working alongside West Midlands Police to raise awareness of the dangers linked to taking the psychoactive drug, which is commonly known as laughing gas, nos, whippits or hippie crack chargers.

It’s a colourless gas that people inhale, usually through a balloon from a pressurised metal canister.

It can have a devastating effect. It can slow down a person’s brain and body’s responses. If too much is inhaled it can lead to unconsciousness and/or suffocating from a lack of oxygen. It can be fatal.

These canisters are increasingly found in parks and open spaces and places where young people particularly are known to congregate.

The campaign aims to encourage people to report places where this kind of activity is taking place so authorities can respond.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member responsible for community safety, said:

The increased use of nitrous oxide within our communities is a huge concern. We believe most of the people taking this drug are youngsters and have little or no idea what the potentially fatal consequences of this drug are.
We want to reach out to young people, to educate them and help them realise that it’s ok to say no to drugs.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

As part of this campaign I would appeal directly to parents of teenagers to talk to them as openly as they can about the serious dangers this drug poses to their health. We need them to understand that this really is no laughing matter, despite what their peers may tell them.

Sally Bourner, Chief Superintendent, Dudley Neighbourhood Policing Unit Commander, said:

As well as the life-threatening consequences of this drug, there are criminal ones too. Nitrous oxide is covered by the Psychoactive Substances Act, which means it’s illegal to supply it for its psychoactive effects.
Someone could face up to seven years in prison or a hefty fine if they are found to be supplying this drug. As with any drug, it is just not worth the risk. Being sensible may not always seem like the fun option but it’s certainly the wisest.

People can report canisters or those illegally selling nitrous oxide online at or by calling Dudley Council Plus on 0300 555 2345.

Support can be found at Adults can get support from Atlantic Recovery Centre on 01384 426120 and young people from Hear4 YOUth on 01384 241440.

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