The police are issuing letters to retailers suspected of selling products containing nitrous oxide (NOS), otherwise known as laughing gas, in an effort to crackdown on dodgy shops.
The psychoactive substance is typically used to fill balloons and later inhaled, but can also be used to power whipped cream chargers.
In a letter sent by Hertfordshire Police this month, and seen by Better Retailing, the force states that it has seen an increase in antisocial behaviour involving NOS, with parents claiming to have concerns that those under 18 have been able to buy the substance from convenience stores.
“We also have had reports of persons buying the gas, then getting into their vehicles immediately driving off whilst inhaling the NOS via balloons,” it read. “This causes the drivers to be driving while unfit and if caught can be arrested and dealt with similarly to a drink-driver scenario.
“It has been identified as a product sold in off licenses and convenience stores locally, with the items often purchased with alcohol.”
The police went on to warn retailers that if they are knowingly selling NOS for anything other than its intended use, they will have the goods seized and later prosecuted. Doing so, can hold a custodial sentence of up to a year.
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