Trade body welcomes nitrous oxide ban

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

No laughing matter: NTIA welcomes ban of nitrous oxide (Getty/ Peter Dazeley)
No laughing matter: NTIA welcomes ban of nitrous oxide (Getty/ Peter Dazeley)

Related tags Legislation Night Time Industries Association Health and safety Social responsibility

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has welcomed the Government’s ban of nitrous oxide gas, after the drug had put “immense pressure” on the late-night sector.

Yesterday morning (Sunday 26 March), Levelling up secretary Michael Gove announced nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, would be banned in a plan to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.

"Anti-social behaviour can ruin lives," he said.

He continued: “I think anyone who has the opportunity to walk through our parks in our major cities will have seen these little silver canisters, which are examples of people not only spoiling public spaces but taking a drug which can have a psychological and neurological effect and one that contributes to antisocial behaviour overall."

Long-standing battle

Nitrous oxide is the second most commonly used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in England after cannabis.

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “We welcome the announcement by the Government today that nitrous oxide is set to be banned under new government plans to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.

“The industry has faced a long-standing battle with the sale and use of this drug, with the current legislation leaving licensees and authorities powerless to tackle the problem.

“Businesses have been put under immense pressure by police, local authorities and residents as a result of streets being littered with silver canisters, exposing staff and customers to petty crime, anti-social behaviour and organized crime gangs.

“The intervention by the Government has come at a critical time, as businesses in major cities across the UK have seen the challenges around nitrous oxide escalate dramatically in the past six to 12 months.”

Drug misuse

The independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) was asked by the Home Office in 2021 to provide advice on whether to make possession of nitrous oxide a crime.

The ACMD concluded that the sanctions of offences under the act would be disproportionate with the level of harm associated with the substance, and that such control could create "significant burdens" for legitimate uses of the substance.

But Gove said ministers were ultimately responsible for making decisions, adding, "we believe collectively that it is absolutely vital that we deal with this scourge."

The cabinet minister confirmed the ban would be issued under the Misuse of Drugs Act 197 but did not know which class - A, B or C - the drug would fall under.

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