The surging popularity of laughing gas in a Brussels municipality is prompting authorities to take matters into their own hands by working hand in hand with shopkeepers.
The use of laughing gas in Evere, in northern Brussels, is increasing sharply, according to local alderman Ridouane Chahid.
"The capsules are everywhere on the floor, especially in parks and in the vicinity of schools," Chahid said.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is sold in small canisters used for inflating balloons or whipping cream and has become an increasingly popular recreational drug in Belgium in recent years.
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Doctors have warned that an increasing number of young people were experiencing "chronic problems" from their recurrent use of the gas.
Several cities in Flanders have already expressed concern or announced measures to fight its growing prevalence among youth, with one city going as far as banning its sale in night shops.
Chahid said that it was no longer possible to allow the issue to "drag on," by waiting for stricter legal regulations and has said Evere will seek to address the root of the problem, according to Bruzz.
"We will contact every shop in the municipality and explain them the dangers [of the gas]," he said, adding that they would ask businesses to stop displaying the canisters in the aisles and put them under lock instead.
Additionally, social workers in the municipality will receive training in order to raise awareness among youth they come in contact with.
The Brussels Times