SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam city council is being asked to consider banning the sale of laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, after a number of youngsters were taken ill during the King’s Day festivities.
Wil van Soest, a councillor for the pensioners’ party 50Plus, has asked the city’s executive board to consider banning the sale of the gas under local bylaws. ‘Several dozen’ people had to be helped by ambulance staff after using the drug on Saturday, according to early media reports.
According to the Parool, a ban on the sale of the gas capsules has already been brought in in Alkmaar and Hoorn during events. In addition, a spokesman for junior health minister Paul Blokhuis told the Parool that there are concerns that voluntary rules worked out with wholesalers and the hospitality sector to limit the sale of the gas are not bearing fruit.
While Bol.com has stopped selling the gas altogether and wholesalers such as Sligro limit the sale to legitimate buyers, it may be that more needs to be done, the spokesman said.
The health ministry said last year it wants to make it more difficult for teenagers to buy laughing gas following a report by addiction clinic Trimbos on the rising use of the drug by youngsters.
That research showed over 37% of Dutch party goers use laughing gas on a regular basis and that young adults are the most likely to do so. Although laughing gas is relatively safe it is not without dangers and its long-term effects on children has not been researched.
Dozens of little companies have sprung up in the Netherlands selling and delivering laughing gas to party goers since courts ruled the gas should not be treated as a medicinal drug.