Legal gas is deadly

Small steel cylinders used to whip cream are being inhaled to bring on a short-term high.

Whipped cream chargers, otherwise known as nangs or laughing gas, are filled with nitrous oxide, which, when inhaled, can make people feel euphoric and relaxed.

Bacchus Marsh Police Youth Resource Officer, Senior Constable Jim Ross said the gas is commonly used for sedation and pain relief by dentists and medical professionals, however, the recreational drug comes with major health risks.

“It is a stimulate and the worst case scenario is sudden death,” he said.

According to the Australian Drug Foundation, users inhale the gas, typically by discharging it into another object, such as a balloon, or directly into the mouth.

The steel cylinder is legally sold as a culinary object, but fortunately not in Moorabool Shire. Mr Ross said the charges had recently been pulled from the shelves of all local retailers.

“I am pleased to see that the local supermarkets have taken a proactive step towards this type of dangerous behaviour,” he said.

“A large national supermarket in our area does not sell the items. When the smaller three other supermarkets in both Bacchus Marsh and Ballan had been informed why people were buying the cream charges, they took immediate action so that young people were unable to readily purchase them”.

Owner of Foodworks Bacchus Marsh, Alex Ng said the items were pulled from the shelves after it came to his attention that they were being stolen. He said the charges were no longer sold on the premises and costumers were required to place an order after providing evidence of identification and reason for purchase.

However, while local supermarkets have rightly curbed the sale of the dangerous item, online and city suppliers are still exploiting a legal grey area. Some websites sell the products in batches of up to 3000, while an online Melbourne business makes late-night deliveries to people’s homes.

Mr Ross said he understood some people’s attitudes were that if they can’t buy it at one place, they can get it elsewhere.

“I believe that’s a fair call, however, with that attitude I believe people may be throwing their arms in air and yelling ‘what can we do’ or ‘it’s too late’. But what we can do is educate, put in place best practises and do the best to keep our young people safe.

“I congratulate all supermarkets in our area for taking appropriate action and have putting in place controls that I hope will deter young people risking their lives. If there are other business’s out there selling this product, I hope they do the same”.

The consumption of nitrous oxide can result in numbness of the body, blurred vision, light-headedness, loss of oxygen and heart attack. The gas is intensely cold, at negative 40C degrees, and can also cause frostbite to the nose, lips, throat and vocal cords.

First appeared in The Moorabool News, August 29 2017

Photo: Jessica Howard

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