Three young women and a man were arrested in Ayia Napa early Wednesday in connection with selling laughing gas but were released after questioning, pending forensic tests.
Police launched the dawn operation to counter the unauthorised sale of the medicinal product which is popular with holidaymaking clubbers visiting the resort.
Police say two British girls aged 20 and 23, a Swedish girl aged 21 and a Romanian guy aged 22 were engaged in selling the gas, which is consumed from balloons filled from cartridges similar to soda bottle refills, to passers-by.
Four metal cylinders, 103 unused and 14 used cartridges as well as 85 empty balloons were taken as evidence. Some €828 in cash was confiscated from the four who were taken to Ayia Napa police station for questioning.
Nitrous oxide is a gas with several legitimate uses and is approved for use as a food additive, also known as E942. It is conventionally used in catering to assist in the making of whipped cream. When inhaled it can make people feel euphoric and relaxed. This happy feeling led to it being nicknamed ‘laughing gas’.
Nitrous oxide may cause analgesia, depersonalisation, derealisation, dizziness, euphoria, and distortion of sound. Research has also found that it increases suggestibility and imagination. Inhalation of nitrous oxide for recreational use, with the purpose of causing euphoria and slight hallucinations, began as a phenomenon for the British upper class in 1799, known as ‘laughing gas parties’.
The major safety hazards of nitrous oxide come from the fact that it is a compressed liquefied gas, an asphyxiation risk, and a dissociative anaesthetic. Exposure to nitrous oxide causes short-term decreases in mental performance, audio-visual ability, and manual dexterity. Abusing nitrous oxide can lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in loss of blood pressure, fainting and heart attacks
Use of the gas recreationally was made illegal in the UK with another number of so called ‘legal highs’ on May 26 this year.