Sinn Fein spokesperson on Mental Health, Youth Justice and Community Safety, Mark Ward TD, has raised concerns about the increase in young people using Nitrous Oxide.
A recent report published by the HSE on their Adolescent Addiction Service has shown that 22% of young people attending their service admitted to taking Nitrous Oxide on occasion, reflecting an increase of 175% compared to 2021.
The Dublin Mid-West TD currently has legislation with the Bills office in the Oireachtas that would regulate the sale of Nitrous Oxide to commercial use only.
Teachta Ward said:
“You only have to walk into any estate or green area, and you will see large, discarded canisters of Nitrous Oxide, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’.
“When they first came out, we used to see small single use canisters, known as silver bullets, discarded around the place. Now they have been replaced by large canisters. which have super doses in them.
“Those large canisters are being sold on the street for €40 each. Unscrupulous dealers are making vast profits from the sale of nitrous oxide.
“The widespread use of nitrous oxide is resulting in antisocial behaviour, litter, and it is damaging to people’s health.
“As recently as December 2022, a neurology specialist at the Mater Hospital warned of an increase in the number of patients suffering severe nerve damage after inhaling nitrous oxide gas.
“Dr Macken reported that the gas causes a range of sensory issues in patients who have presented, including a numbness in their hands, feet and extremities, serious issues with balance, problems with their heart rate, and mental health issues.
“I have submitted legislation to the Bills office in the Oireachtas that will regulate the sale of Nitrous Oxide to commercial use only.
“This is like legislation introduced in Holland where authorities are regulating the use of nitrous oxide outside the medical and catering industries.
“This Bill will not criminalise young people for simple possession of nitrous oxide, however it would give the Gardaí the power to seize the canisters.
“I am introducing this legislation as the Government have not reacted to this issue with any urgency.
“A young person taking Nitrous Oxide is playing Russian roulette, because they do not know the effect that the gas is going to have on them until they take it.”
Note to Editor:
Click here to view the Adolescent Addiction Service Report 2023 in full.
(Image) Mark Ward TD holding large nitrous oxide canisters.