Flemish city looks to ban sales of laughing gas canisters in night shops

Flemish city looks to ban sales of laughing gas canisters in night shops
The use of laughing gas as a recreational drug has seen a surge in popularity in Belgium. Credit: Evie McCullough/The Brussels Times

A Flemish city will seek to ban the sale of laughing gas canisters in night shops in an attempt to curb the "improper use" of the gas, whose popularity as a recreational drug has surged in recent months.

From 1 October, the city of Kortrijk, in the province of West Flanders, will seek to fine night shops and food and drink establishments who are still selling the canisters, Mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne announced on Tuesday.

Businesses found selling the canisters after the implementation of the ban could risk a fine of up to €350, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

"At first, we thought that we as a city could not do anything about, but since we see this as a risk to public health, we introduced a ban," the mayor said.

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, which is sold in small canisters used for inflating balloons or whipping cream, has become an increasingly popular recreational drug in Belgium in recent years.

News of the ban comes as doctors in Flanders sound the alarm over a growing number of hospital admissions of recreational users of the gas, and come after the city mayor said he would take action after a local night shop was found selling the canisters in their sweets counter.

The ban also follows a decree issued in July which allowed police in the city to seize any canisters deemed to have been subject to "improper use," after officers found boxes of empty laughing gas canisters in a local café.

The implementation of the decree saw police officers seize a batch of 150 canisters from a single establishment, the outlet reports.

An additional decree issued by the measure will prohibit the sale of the canisters pending approval of the ban by the city council.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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