Doors open for stricter rules on the sale of nitrous oxide

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – Nitrous oxide is establishing itself as a party drug, especially among young people. The medical profession has recently expressed concern, but now politicians also appear to have the issue on their agenda.

Just yesterday, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) seemed open to stricter rules. Nitrous oxide is a significant health risk, and it’s no small thing, he emphasized. “We should all be concerned about the rapid spread among children and young people.”

It therefore considers it unacceptable for laughing gas to be sold in vending machines or “Spätis”, especially to children and young people. It is in discussions with relevant government departments so that regulations can be reached soon. “There is no way things can continue as they are now.”

O German Society for Neurology and the Lower Saxony Medical Association had already warned about the dangers. In Gifhorn, near Wolfsburg, a vending machine with bottles of nitrous oxide next to sweets and disposable e-cigarettes is causing protests.

Yesterday, the red-green state government of Lower Saxony announced that it would examine an initiative by the Federal Council. This met with a positive response in Baden-Württemberg. The proposal should be “seriously considered”, said a spokeswoman for Health Minister Manne Lucha (Greens) in Stuttgart. According to the spokeswoman, measures against the increase in nitrous oxide consumption among young people are considered technically advisable.

The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Health sees the focus of consumption in North Rhine-Westphalia and northern Germany. The ministry said the substance was also widespread among young people in Baden-Württemberg, some as young as 12 years old.

“Consumption poses health risks to inexperienced consumers, especially in the form of frostbite; In the small group of intensive and long-term users there is a particular risk of neurological damage,” said the spokeswoman.

Nitrous oxide, i.e. nitrous oxide (NtwoO), has been growing as a party drug for several years. Consumers inhale the euphoric substance through balloons. Nitrous oxide is not yet covered by drug law in Germany and can, for example, be purchased in capsules or cream cartridges in supermarkets, tobacconists or on the Internet.

Other states have introduced legal regulations against abuse. In Britain, possession of laughing gas has been illegal since the end of 2023, and the Netherlands and Denmark also have strict regulations. © may/dpa/aerzteblatt.de

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