No laugh­ing mat­ter over fa­tal legal high

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

CHIL­DREN are be­ing warned about the fa­tal dan­ger of laugh­ing gas af­ter the ‘ wor­ry­ing’ craze hit Macclesfield.

Po­lice say they have dis­cov­ered dozens of empty metal can­is­ters of ni­trous ox­ide across the town.

Nick­named hippy crack, charg­ers or whip­pets, the sil­ver bul­let-shaped can­is­ters can be bought on­line.

Users fill a bal­loon and suck the gas from it to get a brief high.

But po­lice and health chiefs are warn­ing of the dan­gers of this so-called ‘legal high’.

Po­lice have found empty can­is­ters on play­ing fields in Up­ton Pri­ory and on the un­der­pass at Gas Road.

And Ex­press read­ers have also re­ported find­ing them on Pick­ford Street in the town cen­tre and ar­eas of Poyn­ton.

Ni­trous ox­ide can cause dizzi­ness, un­con­scious­ness or death from lack of oxy­gen. Regular use can also lead to anaemia and nerve dam­age.

Sgt Steve Daven­port, of Macclesfield po­lice, said: “Young peo­ple need to be aware of the neg­a­tive health ef­fects of this laugh­ing gas.

“We are tak­ing this mes­sage out to schools in the town and youth club through our PCSOs.”

Macclesfield MP David Rut­ley said the trend was ‘ex­tremely wor­ry­ing’.

He said: “As a par­ent it is wor­ry­ing to see the grow­ing use of so-called legal highs like this.

“We need to sup­port the po­lice in all that they do, re­mind young peo­ple of the dan­gers of us­ing laugh­ing gas and help bet­ter ed­u­cate par­ents and youth lead­ers.

“Young peo­ple need to be bet­ter pro­tected from the dan­gers in­volved.”

Dr Paul Bowen, chair­man of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, which rep­re­sents GPs in Mac­cles- field and Poyn­ton, said: “While ni­trous ox­ide, or ‘laugh­ing gas’, is some­times used as an anaes­thetic dur­ing den­tal surgery, it can be very harm­ful when mis­used.

“It can cause dizzi­ness and lack of judg­ment and – in ex­treme cases – loss of con­scious­ness and even death, due to lack of oxy­gen.

“Regular use of ni­trous ox­ide can also lead to de­fi­ciency in the vi­ta­min B12, which can lead to se­ri­ous nerve dam­age in some cases.”

While pos­sess­ing and in­hal­ing the gas is legal in Bri­tain, it is il­le­gal to sell it to un­der 18s.

●● Erika Groen­eveld sent in this pic­ture of a dis­carded can­is­ter on Pick­ford Street, inset, Po­lice say they have col­lected dozens of the can­is­ters

●● A still from the short film Bal­loon, which aims to raise aware­ness of can­cer

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