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You could win a Nando’s or Costa voucher as new campaign highlights that laughing gas is #NoLaughingMatter

A new campaign has started across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse to highlight the issues and dangers of Nitrous Oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas.

The campaign will see #NoLaughingMatter stencils painted across the districts and there will also be a short online quiz, with a £25 Nando’s or Costa voucher up for grabs.

Most people will have seen the small silver cannisters discarded in public areas, such as parks and high streets. Perhaps they didn’t know what they were, became concerned about people using them or were annoyed at the litter. Maybe they knew exactly what they were and had used them before. 

Laughing gas is the second most used recreational drug among young people in the UK aged 16-24. It is sold in small cannisters that can often be found discarded in streets and parks.

Laughing gas is a psychoactive substance – when inhaled it slows down the body’s response time, which can lead to fits of laughter, dizziness and feeling relaxed.  However, it can also cause paranoia, hallucinations, and headaches, and if too much laughing gas is inhaled, the user could suffer shortness of breath or even pass out, potentially putting their life at risk.  When discarded in public areas, the cannisters also cause a litter nuisance.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have launched the #NoLaughingMatter campaign to raise awareness of laughing gas and the risks of using it, and are encouraging residents to report any cannisters they find and to seek advice/support where needed.

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Using Nitrous Oxide may seem relatively harmless, however a few minutes of fun from these cannisters can put peoples’ long-term health at risk and potentially have even more serious consequences.  When that happens it really is No Laughing Matter, so it is important that people are more aware of the dangers, particularly young people who may be under more pressure to try these substances.”

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Through the #NoLaughingMatter campaign we are aiming to highlight the issues and potential dangers of using laughing gas.  As well as reaching out to young people via the stencils and quiz, we would also encourage parents to take a look at the information and advice available and to ensure their children are aware of the risks.”

#NoLaughingMatter – to find out what you need to know about laughing gas and to enter the competition to win a £25 Nando’s or Costa voucher – visit

(Terms and Conditions apply – entries close at 11:59pm on Sunday 14 November 2021).

If see people using laughing gas, or notice cannisters discarded in a public area, please report it by contacting the Community Safety Team at or by calling 01235 422590.

For advice and help about laughing gas please Talk to Frank.


  • In 2019-20, 8.7% of 16 to 24-year-olds reported using laughing gas in the last 12 months, equivalent to around 549,000 people, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. It is the second most used drug by young people in the UK, after cannabis.
  • The sale of laughing gas for its psychoactive effects was made illegal after the Psychoactive Substances Act in 2016, but it is not currently a crime to be caught in possession of the drug (except in prison).
  • Secondary to the risks of using laughing gas, it’s use also impacts local communities, as the cannisters are often discarded in public spaces and cause concern for residents.
  • Public awareness of laughing gas is low, unlike cannabis for example. Parents/guardians of young people may not be aware of laughing gas – they could see a cannister in their home and not make the connection that their child is possibly misusing the substance. Young people may be misinformed on the effects, risks and law surrounding its use, particularly if they are being pressured to participate