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Nitrous Oxide - No laughing matter

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Residents have told us that antisocial behaviour linked to the taking of Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, has become a significant concern.

The council and Tower Hamlets Homes have received complaints from local people who find it intimidating seeing groups of people taking Nitrous Oxide, which also causes a noise nuisance. The small metal canisters that contain it are often left on the floor as litter.

So, what can we do together to tackle this issue?

The facts

Although the gas was previously a ‘legal high’, it is now illegal to supply or import Nitrous Oxide for personal use.

Nitrous Oxide is used as pain relief during medical procedures such as dental work. It can also be legally bought for use in whipped cream dispensers.

Nitrous Oxide can cause dizziness and affect the taker’s judgement. This can put people at risk of hurting themselves. Further research is taking place into its long-term effects, with some health conditions and deaths linked to its use.

What we are doing

Enforcement

To crackdown on antisocial behaviour including the use of nitrous oxide, the council is paying for 14 new police officers to patrol the housing estates operated by Tower Hamlets Homes.

Illegal sale

The council’s Trading Standards team is working with the police and residents to tackle retail outlets that sell gas to people who misuse it.

Littering

Our street cleaning teams are picking up discarded canisters from estates, parks and streets. They are also working with residents to clean up specific areas of litter caused by the use of nitrous oxide.

Prevention

We hope the information the council is providing will discourage people from using Nitrous Oxide and act as a valuable resource for parents when talking to their children. We will also be talking to school children about the dangers and effects of Nitrous Oxide as part of the substance abuse schools programme.

What you can do 

Report activity

You can report discarded canisters so we can clean them up. If they are on your estate, you should contact Tower Hamlets Homes on 020 7364 5015. If canisters are in streets or parks, away from estates, you can report them to the council’s street cleaning team on 020 7364 5004.

You can also report retail outlets selling nitrous oxide to our Trading Standard team by emailing tradingstandards@towerhamlets.gov.uk

That way we will be safer together