Parents write a letter to Minister Lauterbach

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Gifhorn. A vending machine with bottles of nitrous oxide next to sweets and disposable e-cigarettes is causing protests in Gifhorn. At the beginning of May, the city parents’ council called on local authorities to take action against machines near a school and daycare center and has now also written a letter to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

“We have to ask ourselves why the sale of such dangerous substances is allowed near children and young people and call for the relevant regulations to be reviewed and strengthened,” Christopher Finck, vice-president of the parents’ committee, told dpa news. agency. Several media outlets had already reported on the machine’s laughing gas.

Party drugs on the rise

Nitrous oxide is on the rise as a party drug. Unlike the Netherlands and Great Britain, sales to individuals have not yet been restricted in Germany. The machine operator in Gifhorn also sells colored cartridges in his tobacconist, but only to people over 18 years old, both at the machine and in the store, as he highlights. By doing so, he was going beyond the law, said the operator, who did not want to read his name in the media. Laughing gas is only available from the machine if you can prove you are of legal age with your ID card.

Concerned parents are demanding more information from Minister Lauterbach about the dangerous party drug in schools and a general ban on the sale of laughing gas to minors. Parents also support the Lower Saxony Medical Association’s demand to ban the sale of nitrous oxide cartridges containing more than eight grams to private individuals. Lauterbach announced stricter rules on Wednesday to restrict the sale of laughing gas as a party drug, especially to young people. This is a significant health risk and no small feat, said the SPD politician.

Lauterbach: “The rapid spread is worrying”

“We should all be concerned about the rapid spread among children and young people,” Lauterbach said. It therefore considers it unacceptable for laughing gas to be sold in vending machines or “Spätis” (night shops), 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.”

The German Society for Neurology (DGN) also recently warned against the consumption of nitrous oxide, i.e. nitrous oxide (N2O). It is a fallacy that it is considered low risk. According to doctors, there is a risk of long-term damage. They ranged from loss of consciousness due to displacement of oxygen in the lungs to symptoms of paralysis and even brain damage.

General practitioners demand better protection

According to a media report, the Union in the Bundestag calls for a ban on the sale of laughing gas to minors. “Medical anesthetics have no place in children and young people,” health expert Tino Sorge (CDU) told the German editorial network (RND/Wednesday). The risk of psychological dependence is considerable; in extreme cases it can cause fainting, paralysis and heart problems. “The warnings from the medical profession and police circles are clear. “This is why legal regulations must be implemented quickly to prevent the use of laughing gas as a party drug and its distribution to minors,” he said.

GPs are also calling for stricter regulation. “The sale of laughing gas should be regulated much more strictly, as is already the case in other European countries,” the federal president of the Association of General Practitioners, Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth, told RND. Children and young people, in particular, need to be better protected. (dpa/kaha)

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