MINISTERS are facing calls to introduce tighter restrictions on the sale of nitrous oxide as teenagers across the UK seek “quick lockdown highs”.

N2O, which is also known as ‘laughing gas’, is a gas commonly used in the medical and catering industry but is increasingly being used as a so-called ‘legal high’.

Labour’s Rosie Duffield said it is “far too easy” to purchase nitrous oxide canisters for use as a recreational drug and called on the Government to support “better education” on the risks of the substance.

The Canterbury MP added that recreational use has become “much more prevalent” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Leading an adjournment debate on the issue in the Commons, Ms Duffield said: “If you want to buy cream chargers there are no age restrictions currently. A quick look online this morning showed me that I could have 24 canisters delivered to my office tomorrow for just £9.19.

“Teenagers tell me that boxes sell for as little as £5 locally or I could just walk into one of the 25% of corner shops estimated to sell these chargers.

“If I purchased some canisters for the purpose of indulging a quick lockdown high, I wouldn’t have broken the law. And despite a few websites having small print telling you that the nitrous oxide they were selling was for professional purposes only, no one would have asked me for ID or for the items to be sent to a registered catering, medical or dental premises.

“That is what clearly is the problem here. It is far too easy to be able to purchase nitrous oxide for use as a recreational drug and everyday, up and down the country, thousands of young people are doing just that.

“It is clear to me, and many of the experts that I’ve spoken to, that the recreational use has become much more prevalent during lockdown.

“And this isn’t it any way meant as an attack on teenagers or young people, they are not the villains of this piece.

“The toll on the mental well-being of young people forced to be apart from their friends has been really difficult. And let’s be honest here, every generation has experimented with and will continue to use recreational drugs and alcohol of some kind.”

Criminal justice workers have been campaigning for the Government to re-categorise a legal high after noticing more young people being "exploited" and influenced into taking N2O across the district and further afield.

The campaign was launched by Sofia Buncy, national co-ordinator at the Khidmat Centre and lead on the Muslim Women in Prison Project, and Sharat Hussain, a youth worker at The Mary Magdalene Project.

But both have warned that this is not about criminalising young people, it is about education and "exploitation". They also felt covid-19 is "exacerbating" the drug fad.

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said: “The Government recognises tackling the misuse of nitrous oxide requires a multi-faceted approach, not just enforcement, not just tackling retailers, but also ensure young people understand and actually people of all ages because it’s not just confined to younger people, the use of this substance, understand the implications long-term.”