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Cyprus

Police clamp down on sale of ‘laughing gas’

By Evie Andreou

POLICE QUESTIONED several foreign nationals over the weekend and on Monday in the Famagusta area, after they were spotted allegedly selling laughing gas (nitrous oxide).

Early on Monday morning, three people – one British and one Hungarian woman and a Romanian man – were spotted selling what was described as a pharmaceutical product without licence. Police confiscated 135 balloons, 40 unused and 26 used canisters, and €50 in cash.

On Saturday four foreign nationals were also questioned after being spotted selling the same substance. Unused and used canisters were confiscated, along with 45 balloons and €164 in cash. Police said the suspects would be charged at a later date.

‘Laughing gas’ which can produce a high when inhaled is widely available on the busy party streets of Ayia Napa in particular.

Famagusta police spokesman George Economou said that even though it is not an illegal substance, it cannot be sold without permission as it designated for medical use, it is not safe to be used by individuals for recreational purposes.

Economou added that if the practice continued police would implement more drastic measures.

Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) or Hippy Crack as it is called in the UK is a sedative agent mainly used by dentists to make patients more comfortable during certain procedures. Patients administered the gas do not go to sleep and are able to hear and respond to the dentist.

Apart from its medical use, a less pure form of laughing gas is for commercial use and is commonly used to tune engines. This less pure form may often contain other chemicals or gases such as methyl nitrate which can lead to oxygen deficiency in the human body.

The gas has proven to be a headache for British local authorities that have been confiscating the gas in large quantities. Reportedly a total of half a million young people across the UK often inhale the gas in bars, parties or concerts. It is very affordable (£3 to £5 per canister and is considered a ‘legal high’.

The gas, which is inhaled by users in a balloon which has been filled from a canister, reportedly brings ‘an intense feeling of euphoria’ for about a minute.

British authorities however, have warned that nitrous oxide abuse could lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in loss of blood pressure, fainting and heart attacks. It has also been linked to a number of deaths in the UK.


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