No Laughing Matter

07th November 2019

A council is asking parents to check their children’s purchases and school bags for canisters of nitrous oxide. Silver canisters of Nitrous Oxide, commonly knowns as ‘laughing gas’ and also known as ‘nox’, are dispensed into balloons for inhalation. The empty canisters have become a familiar sight on street pavements and in parks. Legislation introduced in 2016 made it illegal to sell the gas for psychoactive purposes. 

Whilst nitrous oxide is rarely directly fatal, it can lead to associated deaths, either from suffocation, or through risky behaviour. The gas can also cause severe headaches, dizziness, fainting and short-lived but intense feelings of paranoia. Use often leads to antisocial behaviour, which is disruptive and can be frightening to other residents. 

Three Rivers remains committed to reducing and preventing anti-social behaviour across the district, whether it results directly from drug use or from the litter left behind by users.

Cllr Roger Seabourne, Lead Member of Community Safety and Partnerships, said: “People need to be aware of the risks involved with the use of Nitrous Oxide which are certainly no laughing matter. There are serious physical and psychological effects as there are with the abuse of any substance.

“I would ask parents to watch out for their children buying these canisters, often through online sites, and look out for the signs of use. More information about drugs, and the symptoms and side effects of their use can be found online at”.

The photo shows a number of canisters collected recently in Chorleywood.