THE Town Hall will lobby for 'laughing gas' to be included in public awareness campaigns, following a reported rise in the use of the legal high in Bolton.

A recent report by The Royal College of Nursing UK (RCN) states that nitrous oxide is predominantly being used by 16 to 24 year olds and that it is the second most popular drug of this age group after cannabis.

Tabling a motion at last week's council meeting, Cllr Sue Haworth said residents and fellow councillors have become "accustomed" to finding silver nitrous oxide canisters around the town.

She also noted potential links between usage and anti-social behaviour.

The motion asked the council to ask government ministers to include nitrous oxide misuse in public awareness campaigns and to consider how the work of government can become more adaptable to changes in substance misuse.

Executive cabinet member for Wellbeing Cllr Susan Baines said: "The effects of using it are short lasting but they can be very dangerous.

"Taking it over a long period of time can lead to a range of health problems such as burns, increased heart rate and swelling on the brain.

"Bolton has reported an increase in usage and canisters are being left everywhere which are a danger to others. We as a council are monitoring the situation closely."

In recent months, laughing gas canisters have been spotted around Bolton. In July, a box with around 200 canisters inside was dumped in Mere Hall. Earlier in the year in April hundreds of the canisters were also dumped outside Olive Tree Primary School in Daubhill.

At the time, Sgt Paul Blackburn of GMP Bolton West said: "We are committed to cracking down on this type of illegal activity to ensure people feel safe and secure.

“We carry out regular patrols in the areas most affected, to tackle those who are selling these substances and advise those who are using psychoactive substances just how dangerous it can be. This includes signposting people who need it to the most appropriate support service."

Cllr Elaine Sherrington suggested the legal high should be taken as seriously as classified drugs.

She added: "I do think it being called laughing doesn't help and it encourages young people to try it. It should be taken just as seriously as cannabis and cocaine."

The motion was carried unanimously.