Suppliers are willing to limit sales of laughing gas, minister says

Laughing gas capsules dumped by the side of a road in Amsterdam. Photo:
Laughing gas capsules dumped by the side of a road in Amsterdam. Photo:

Laughing gas suppliers are willing to put tighter controls on its sale, health minister Bruno Bruins has told the Telegraaf.

The health ministry wants to make it more difficult for teenagers to buy laughing gas following a report by addiction clinic Trimbos on the rising use of the drug by youngsters.

Bruins wants retailers and wholesalers to bring in a voluntary age limit for the sale of laughing gas canisters, and to limit the number of canisters people can buy. Talks with both the wholesale and retail sector are now bearing fruit, Bruins told the Telegraaf.

‘They feel that they have a responsibility,’ junior health minister Paul Blokhuis told the paper.

According to research by the Trimbos institute and Amsterdam University’s Bonger Institute last year, over 37% of Dutch party goers use laughing gas on a regular basis and that young adults are the most likely to do so.

However, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people aged 13 to 17 who use the gas. ‘It is often the first drug they use and that could lower the threshold [for others],’ said researcher Ton Nabben. ‘They don’t see it as a drug because you can easily buy it.’


Although laughing gas is relatively safe it is not without dangers and its long-term effects on children has not been researched.

Last June, the Volkskrant reported that dozens of little companies have sprung up in the Netherlands selling and delivering laughing gas to party goers since courts ruled the gas should not be treated as a medicinal drug.

Chamber of Trade records show lots of new companies with names like Partygas and Lachgas Express who deliver nitrous oxide plus balloons to your home, the paper said.

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