Hundreds To Take Laughing Gas In Westminster

1 August 2015, 11:03 | Updated: 1 August 2015, 11:08

A protest against government plans to ban mood-altering drugs will see hundreds of people inhale nitrous oxide in central London later.

Crowds will gather in Parliament Square this afternoon to take balloons of laughing gas.

The demonstration has been organised by the Psychedelic Society.

Stephen Reid, from the charity, has told Heart a ban is not the answer: "I sympathise we are doing all we can to try and reduce the risks and actually I think the best thing we can do is to keep these substances legal and give people the proper education about these things rather than pushing them underground into the hands of criminals."

David Nutt, professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, says nitrous oxide is less harmful than other substances: "Alcohol is responsible for 22,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Alcohol is the leading cause of death in men between the ages of 16 and 50.

"Nitrous oxide will never achieve those terrible harm statistics so why not let people use it?"

Figures suggest that nitrous oxide is the fourth most used drug in the UK and that 400,000 used it in 2013-14.

The Metropolitan Police are advising anyone against inhaling laughing gas.

Chief Inspector Jim Corbett, from Islington Police's Partnership Unit, said: "The recreational use of Nitrous Oxide represents a danger to public health and can also render people vulnerable to becoming victims of crime.

"Police in Islington enforced three dispersal zones last weekend around the main areas in the borough where Nitrous Oxide is being sold, to prevent both those who sell and those who purchase.

"We strongly advise the public that Nitrous Oxide should not be experimented with and we are particularly alert to the risks posed to young people who consume the intoxicant."