Intended for healthcare professionals


Experts condemn government’s decision to criminalise nitrous oxide as “not evidence based”

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 27 March 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p723

Linked Editorial

Recreational use of nitrous oxide

  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Medical experts and substance abuse charities have condemned the government’s decision to criminalise nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, arguing that the ban is not based on evidence and warning that it could push people towards more harmful drugs.

In its new anti-social behaviour action plan, published 27 March, the government said it was taking a “zero tolerance” approach to nitrous oxide to “send a clear message to intimidating gangs, that hang around high streets and children’s parks and litter them with empty canisters, that they will not get away with this behaviour.”1

In a 27 March letter to chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) Owen Bowden-Jones, the government explained that the drug would be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a class C drug.2

Last year, …

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