Trade body urges festival organisers to take action on gas abuse

UK: The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) has appealed to festival organisers to take a robust stance against gas abuse.

The national trade body is calling on festival organisers to prevent Nitrous Oxide getting onto their sites and help block its use, which can be fatal in some cases.

Supplying the gas for inhalation (without appropriate medical licence and qualified supervision) is now an offence under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, and the BCGA is keen to see offences punished by the courts.

Doug Thornton, Chief Executive of the BCGA, said: “The recreational use of Nitrous Oxide has always been dangerous and has caused many deaths. The relatively new law has already had good effect in curbing the activities of those who would profit from the misery which substance abuse causes and we hope the message starts to get through that inhaling Nitrous Oxide is anything but harmless fun.

“The law now needs to be enforced vigorously and festival organisers provide robust actions to ban supplies of the gas getting into their events, particularly in the small 8g mini-canister ‘bullets’, which are so easy to buy and to hide in pockets and bags. Organisers should also consider their own Public Liability risk and insurance in this.”

According to the BCGA, the misuse of Nitrous Oxide – which is often referred to as ‘laughing gas’ can lead to serious health issues and even death.

Thornton added: “It can put users at all manner of risks with their judgement, thinking and motor functions impaired. Repeated use can also interfere with complex biochemistry in the body to do irreversible damage to the brain, central nervous system and liver.

“The most obvious risk is immediate death by simple asphyxiation if users inhale too much. But, before the hypoxic (partial starvation of oxygen to the brain) condition which induces the intended euphoric feeling, it can also cause heart arrest. Many deaths have occurred this way.

“We don’t like the name ‘laughing gas’ as suggests it is fun to inhale and trivialises the risks, but it is absolutely not safe to inhale and there have been too many deaths resultant from its abuse.”