If you've taken a night out in East London's Shoreditch area during the past year, you'd be forgiven for believing that the latest must-have hipster accessory was a blown-up balloon. You'd be...half right. Rather than being filled with helium, they're filled with Nitrous Oxide (otherwise known as laughing gas), a "legal high" that's all the rage with party people in the area at the moment.
And the police have had enough. Police have been issued new rights to act under an anti-social behaviour act, giving the authorities an "effective tool" for breaking up the gangs selling the drug. Those that do not pay attention to the police's requests to move on and stop selling the balloons can now face arrest, as unauthorised street traders.
Though the sale of the giggle-inducing balloons is a legal grey area, those selling them tend to be linked to criminal organisations, and have been noted by the police to turn aggressive during transactions -- as can the impatient punters queuing for a hit off the canisters.
Nitrous Oxide, though relatively harmless for many in small doses, can occasionally prove fatal when inhaled, and can lead to anaemia, bone marrow suppression and central nervous system poisoning. [East London Lines]
Image Credit: Cute attractive Caucasian teenage hipster girl blowing from Shutterstock