Ireland should follow the example of the Netherlands and ban laughing gas for recreational use, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West, Deputy Emer Higgins, has voiced her support for a ban on laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide.
Deputy Higgins said, “From January 2023 in the Netherlands, the sale, import, or possession of laughing gas will be banned with a couple of exceptions such as food production or legitimate medical use.
“I think a ban is something we also need to start looking at here in Ireland to address the growing use of laughing gas among Irish young people and the potential damage it can do.
“I often get complaints from constituents about the littering of these tiny silver cannisters around local streets and parks. More recently, the smaller cannisters have been replaced with large laughing gas cylinders which are now littering the streets as well.
“While litter is a legitimate concern, beyond that, there can also be a very sinister side to the use of laughing gas.
“Research from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found that one in four Irish people had used laughing gas before with 5.5% of the 18-24 age group in Ireland saying that they had used it in the last 12 months.
“The number of people hospitalised due to nitrous oxide use doubled to 10 people in 2021, compared with the previous year, with possible side effects ranging from dizziness to vitamin B12 depletion, memory loss, long-term nerve damage in the body or even asphyxiation.”
Deputy Higgins added: “The cheap and widespread availability of these tiny cannisters of nitrous oxide is also a massive factor in their popularity because buying them online or through social media channels is so easy now.
“But suppliers are specifically catering for recreational use by selling these larger cylinders users which is really concerning.
“The Gardaí have reported that they are seeing an increase in the use of laughing gas so it it’s only a matter of time before we see a marked increase in young people. We need to investigate banning it just as the government in the Netherlands have done.
“We need to get ahead of this before it becomes an even bigger problem,” concluded Deputy Higgins.