Laughing gas YouTube videos must carry warnings, LGA insists

 

Health Correspondent

YouTube and other web giants must do more to protect young people from the party drug laughing gas, UK councils have said, in a warning over internet clips which they said “glamorise” drug use.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said YouTube had a responsibility to add safety warnings to any video which showed people, in particular children, abusing the drug.

Councillors are also concerned that Facebook and Twitter are being used to openly advertise to-your-door delivery of laughing gas – which is illegal to sell for recreational use. 

The LGA said that web giants could not “sit on their hands and ignore what is happening on their own sites”.

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, was used recreationally by 470,000 young people last yea,r according to Government figures. In medical settings, particularly dentist surgeries, it is used to numb pain but its recreational use is on the rise.

It is usually sold in canisters and inhaled from balloons and causes a brief euphoric high.

However, the LGA said that used recreationally it could be a lethal drug – citing recent deaths which had been linked to laughing gas. Most users suffer few ill effects but in rare cases it can cause dangerous oxygen deprivation and there are also concerns that it is sometimes being sold mixed or replaced entirely with more dangerous gases. 

Local authorities have reported seizing large hauls of laughing gas canisters in recent months. In east London, Hackney Council reported that 1,200 canisters had been seized in just one night last month, outside the pubs and clubs of Shoreditch.

Councillor Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s community and wellbeing board said it was “deeply disturbing” the drug was still “widely viewed as safe”.

“It is imperative that users understand just how harmful it can be,” she said. “This gas can kill – and much more needs to be done to get this message across.”

“We are particularly concerned about internet pages and uploaded clips which are effectively 'promoting’ this as a harmless drug. The web giants must do more to crack down on this – they cannot simply sit on their hands and ignore what is happening on their own sites.

“We are calling on the big internet corporations to step up to the plate and show responsibility by providing health warnings and links to drug awareness charities. It is wholly unacceptable that this craze is being glamorised and encouraged in this way.”

Earlier this year a French court said that asphyxiation through the use of nitrous oxide had caused the death of 21-year-old British chef Jordan Guise.

Another young British man, Joseph Bennett, 17, died in 2012 after inhaling a mixture of butane and pentane gas from a canister which he thought contained laughing gas.

Basak Tas, a drugs researcher and advisor at the charity Release said there was little available information or research on the toxicity of nitrous oxide in recreational use.

“Most people who take it have no problems, but as with all inhaled substances if you have an underlying respiratory or cardiac problems there is more reason to be concerned,” she said. “The problem we have with these so-called 'legal highs' is that we don’t always know what’s in the substance – people take things in the belief that it is a particular drug, when in fact it can be another, or many other different drugs.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?