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Organisers told to crack down harder of N20 abuse

25 June 2019

THE TRADE body representing the manufacturers of bottled gas has called on festival organisers to crack down on the illegal use of Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – also known as laughing gas – by preventing the substance from getting onsite. 

The appeal by the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) particularly highlights the abuse of 8g mini-canisters, popularly known as ‘bullets’ or ‘nangs’, which it says are commonly littered around festival sites. 

It points out Home Office estimates that N2O abuse is the second most prevalent substance abuse in the UK after cannabis, while bullets are being sold in quantities far higher than legal usage of the gas would indicate.

The Association has issued the call in the belief that the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) of 2016, which outlawed so-called legal highs, is not being adequately enforced.

“Inhaling N2O is anything but harmless fun,” says BCGA chief executive Doug Thornton. “Festival organisers should provide robust actions to ban supplies of the gas getting into their events, particularly in the mini-canisters, which are so easy to buy and to hide. 

“Event organisers should also consider their own public liability risk and insurance in this.”

Festival Republic, which organises Download (cap. 110,000) Reading (90,000), Leeds (80,000) and Latitude (35,000), says in a statement, “Substances including Nitrous Oxide are banned in terms and conditions of entry to events. We have extensive advice for staff in staff handbooks and we also cover the issue in our harm reduction advice, websites, and on social media.”

A spokesperson for the organisers of Glastonbury Festival (147,500), Michael and Emily Eavis, says “Nitrous Oxide [abuse] is something they have campaigned against for years.”

However, Thornton adds, “The PSA is only as good as the enforcement activity which supports it. Where they see [N20] litter, local authorities, police, and festival organisers should consider increased enforcement activity.”

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