Safer Wyre Forest is launching a new ‘N2Othing to Laugh About’ campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using the drug nitrous oxide and tackle those who leave drug related litter in public spaces.

Nitrous oxide or N2O is commonly known as ‘NOS’ or ‘laughing gas’. It is a colourless gas which when used as a drug is dispensed from a small silver metal canister into a container, such as a balloon or plastic bag and inhaled from the container for a short-lived high.

Some fear that the use of the ‘party drug’ nitrous oxide (N2O) has increased in Wyre Forest and across the UK during the pandemic because of the increase in drug-related paraphernalia like canisters and balloons littering parks, open spaces and alleyways.

Supply of nitrous oxide for recreational drug use is illegal. This means anyone found to be selling, possessing to sell, or giving away nitrous oxide to be inhaled as a drug could face up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine.

It can cause dizziness, nausea, hallucinations and acts as a depressant. Mixing nitrous oxide with other substances increases the risks, as do underlying health conditions, and improper use. For instance, inhaling directly from the canister can cause suffocation, frostbite and even death.

Councillor Helen Dyke, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Community Protection said: “Using nitrous oxide as a drug is by no means harmless and can carry serious risks when used improperly or mixed with other substances. Associated drug litter and anti-social behaviour blight our parks and open spaces, causing great harm to the environment and our community pride. Please consider the dangers, and consider others.”

The campaign will urge people to report drug-related litter to the council’s online customer account My Wyre Forest www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/mywyreforest or download free and report via the My Wyre Forest App.

If you have any concerns about a young person's nitrous oxide use or any other drug or alcohol use – call Switch Worcestershire for free and confidential support on 0300 303 8200. Switch Worcestershire is a young person’s alcohol and drug service for anyone up to the age of 18 living in Worcestershire.

Alternatively, visit www.cranstoun.org for support.