Dealers of laughing gas will face up to 14 years in prison as nitrous oxide becomes illegal from November.

It will be banned from November 8, 2023, and serious repeat offenders could be jailed for up to two years, The Home Office said.

The nitrous oxide ban was promised as part of the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan.

It will make the substance a controlled class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The Bolton News: Nitrous oxide will be banned from November 8Nitrous oxide will be banned from November 8 (Image: Getty Images)

Secondary legislation laid on Wednesday (October 18) will mean possession of nitrous oxide, where a person intends to wrongfully inhale it, will be an offence.

The Home Office said users could receive an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment, a caution which would appear on their criminal record or a prison sentence.

If anyone has a legitimate reason for having the drug, they will be exempt from the ban, the Home Office added.

What is Nitrous Oxide used for?

The drug is used in maternity wards as a pain relief during labour and is also used in the catering sector.

Nitrous oxide is the third most used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in England and police have reported links to antisocial behaviour, including intimidating gatherings on high streets and in children’s parks and empty canisters strewn across public spaces, the Home Office added.

Crime and policing minister Chris Philp said: “We are delivering on the promise we made to take a zero-tolerance approach towards antisocial behaviour and flagrant drug taking in our public spaces.

“Abuse of nitrous oxide is also dangerous to people’s health and today we are sending a clear signal to young people that there are consequences for misusing drugs. Both users and dealers will face the full force of the law for their actions.”

Kensington and Chelsea Council said that waste crews who cleaned up at Notting Hill Carnival in August estimated they collected 13 tonnes of laughing gas canisters from the streets.

Five skips were filled by crews, with an estimated 12,000-plus canisters.

Chief executive of Night-time Industries Association, Michael Kill, said: “We welcome the announcement by the Government today that nitrous oxide is set to be banned under new Government legislation by November 8 but recognise that this must work hand in hand with a much broader education and harm-reduction strategy on drugs across the country.

“The burden on businesses has been substantial, as they’ve contended with mounting pressure from authorities and residents due to the proliferation of discarded silver canisters on the streets.

“This predicament has not only posed risks to the wellbeing of both staff and patrons but has also fostered an environment conducive to petty crime, antisocial behaviour and the activities of organised crime syndicates.”