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Nitrous Oxide

Published: 02/02/2023

Flintshire County Council Community and Business Protection service would like to make residents and businesses across the county aware of the dangers of misuse of Nitrous Oxide also known as laughing gas, and to remind businesses that it is against the law to sell it for human consumption. 

The abuse potential for nitrous oxide is very high and can lead to several adverse and even permanent health effects if abused for a long period of time. Nitrous oxide belongs to a class of recreational drugs known as inhalants. Inhalants can be dangerous because they can be commonly found in substances in the home or workplace.

Inhaling nitrous oxide can result in a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can result in a person falling unconscious and even dying through suffocation or heart problems. This risk is likely to be greater if the gas is consumed in an enclosed space or if a lot is used at the same time.

Commonly known as 'laughing gas' (or by the nicknames ‘Hippy crack’ or ‘Nos’) nitrous oxide is a colourless non-flammable gas that is generally used for sedation and pain relief. It is also sometimes referred to as an inhalant or a volatile substance. Inhalants are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. This means they slow down the workings of the brain, particularly breathing and heart.

The gas is commonly transferred to a container, e.g., a balloon, from which the gas is inhaled. Nitrous oxide is most commonly inhaled through the mouth. Because nitrous oxide is a pressurised gas while in the canister, there is a risk of harming yourself if you inhale nitrous oxide straight from the canister.

The law, since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect on 26 May 2016 it has been illegal to supply or import nitrous oxide for human consumption.

What we are doing?


Our Community Safety Team and Neighbourhood Policing are working in partnership to reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour affecting the wider community. This includes groups congregating and causing a nuisance while under the influence of nitrous oxide.

Illegal sale

Our Trading Standards team is working with the police and residents to tackle retail outlets and individuals selling gas to people who intend to misuse it, or supply to a person under 18 to misuse.

The council are asking residents to report concerns about the selling of nitrous oxide to our Trading Standard team by calling 01352 703181, or e-mail to  

You can also report any intelligence of individuals engaged in the supply and distribution to minors through the same process.

Useful links:

Drug Wise 

Talk to Frank

BBC News - how dangerous is laughing gas?