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Laughing gas goes on sale in Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan

07 january 2015, 19:04
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Photo courtesy of yk-news.kz.
Photo courtesy of yk-news.kz.

Quite an unusual advertisement has appeared in Ust-Kamenogorsk city in eastern Kazakhstan nearly a month ago. The advertisement offers the city residents to buy cans of laughing gas that causes feeling of euphoria and makes you feel intoxicated, Tengrinews reports citing YK-news.kz.

A use manual is attached to the laughing gas cans. Using it is quite simple according to the instruction: release the laughing gas in an ordinary balloon, inhale the mixture, relax and enjoy the euphoria.

The price for a 8-gram can of laughing gas - one doze - is 350 tenge ($1.91).

Producers also claim that sale of laughing gas is legal; there are relevant documents and a certificate of conformity in place. In addition, producers also assure potential buyers that nitrous oxide, which is commonly known as laughing gas, does not cause an addiction, does not have any side effects and is completely safe for human health. Moreover, according to them, it is used all over the world as a food preservative.

But Kazakh doctors and epidemiologists do not think so. “Nitrous oxide is not one of food preservatives and it does not make up for any energy loss in human’s body,” Chief Expert of the Department of Health Surveillance for industrial and municipal facilities at Consumer Protection Department of East Kazakhstan Oblast Jacob Bezmaternykh explained.

According to him, laughing gas is not that safe as producers claim, as it does causes an addiction, oxygen deficiency of the brain which consequently leads to disorientation, and has a number of other side effects. It is therefore necessary, according to him, to stop the sale of laughing gas. 

The region’s Department of Internal Affairs explained that they were aware of all the negative effects of the gas, but they still were not able to restrict the sale of the product. “The police can not bring the sellers of laughing gas to any administrative or criminal liability, since it (gas) is not on the list of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors subject to control in Kazakhstan,” the police said, “Interior Ministry has already submitted a proposal to Kazakhstan's Government to impose control over circulation of the gas or prohibiting the open sale of nitrous oxide.”

The opinion of doctors reflect the conclusions of a number of researches on nitrous oxide, which found that nitrous oxide may cause analgesia, depersonalisation, derealisation, dizziness, euphoria, some sound distortion and increase in suggestibility.

Inhalation of nitrous oxide for recreational use, with the purpose of causing euphoria and/or slight hallucinations, began first as a phenomenon among the British upper class in 1799, known as 'laughing gas parties'. Because equipment to produce the gas was not widely available, and the demand for the gas for medical purposes was fairly low, it was a relatively rare phenomenon that mainly happened among students at medical universities. However, starting from 1863, with an increasing access to equipment to produce gas, more people began use it for recreational purposes. 

By Assel Satubaldina


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