Published: 00:01, 10 November 2014
Clubbers in Maidstone are inhaling laughing gas and then discarding the empty canisters in the streets while enjoying a night out.
But the issue - the latest legal highs craze to sweep the country - is no laughing matter, say the town’s street pastors.
Members of the team who patrol the County Town on Saturday nights have been coming across small canisters.
Team leader Gordon Mackley said: “As we walked around, we saw a lot of small gas containers on the street and wondered what they were.
“I have found out that they are being filled with nitrous oxide and used for a short buzz.
“This is of course very dangerous and although there is really nothing we can do about such usage, it is another thing to consider if we find someone in a collapsed state.”
Police warned they will take robust action against licensed premises found to be linked to its use, as inhaling the gas in a venue could class as a breach of licensing conditions.
Sgt Garry Brimson said: “The misuse of nitrous oxide is currently not a common or widespread problem in Kent.
“It is important to understand the serious risks to health this substance can pose. Nitrous oxide can be very dangerous when misused.”
The substance can cause someone to become faint and unconscious and may cause heart attacks. The gas depletes the brain of oxygen.
The Home Office has found it to be the second most popular recreational drug among 16- to 24-year-olds in England and Wales.
Nitrous oxide is not a controlled drug, and its legitimate use is in medicine, including dentistry.
Under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, it is illegal to sell to under 18s substances which the seller believes may be inhaled for the purposes of intoxication.
While it is not illegal for an adult to inhale the gas many councils across Britain are concerned about its use.
Two people from London, one aged 17, have died after breathing in the gas and suffering complications.
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