Arnhem is the first city in the Netherlands to have completely banned the recreational sale of laughing gas, broadcaster NOS reports.
The city already prohibited the sale of laughing gas in the street and is now including bars and other hospitality venues, as well as events and festivals.
The step comes in the wake of warnings from information centre NVIC about a rising number of instances of poisoning and other health problems associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide.
‘I worry about the use of laughing gas by our young people,’mayor Ahmed Marcouch told the broadcaster. ‘Brain development and the use of laughing gas don’t go together.’
The ever more popular party drug is also a pollutant, Marcouch said, and is posing a risk to traffic safety and public order. ‘I can’t stand by and do nothing. We have to put an end to the sale of laughing gas and I will do all I can to nip it in the bud.’
There are eight known bars where laughing gas is sold in Arnhem. If they continue to do so they will be fined and possibly shut down.
The legal basis for the ban is the legislation on the protection of the environment which stipulates that danger to humans and the environment must be prevented or limited. Because sellers know the dangers of laughing gas they are breaking the law, officials say.
Other cities in the Netherlands are contemplating a similar ban. A seller in Amsterdam, who was fined €100,000, has said he would let the fines mount to a million before he would stop.
Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus is reportedly contemplating a national ban.