Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 758 – Departmental regulations [32097/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 758 – Departmental regulations [32097/22]. (21 Jun 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

758. Dputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the categorisation, if any, concerning nitrous oxide capsules; if they are considered legal or illegal or a danger to health; the steps his Department has taken to deal with them or manage the abuse of them which is widespread; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32097/22]


Minister of State at the Department of Health Frank Feighan: Nitrous oxide falls under the definition of a psychoactive substance and a solvent. Section 3 of the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances Act) 2010 states that a person who sells a psychoactive substance knowing or being reckless as to whether that substance is being acquired or supplied for human consumption shall be guilty of an offence.


Section 74 of the Child Care Act 1991 states that it shall be an offence for a person to sell, offer or make available a substance to a person under the age of eighteen years or to a person acting on behalf of that person if he knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the substance is, or its fumes are, likely to be inhaled by the person under the age of eighteen years for the purpose of causing intoxication.


Responsibility for these Acts lays with the Department of Justice and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, respectively. It is the responsibility of An Garda Síochána to enforce this legislation and to confiscate supplies of this drug.


To support the public health response to the use of nitrous oxide, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has developed a number of resources including information factsheets for concerned parents as well as harm reduction factsheets for people who use nitrous oxide in this manner. These factsheets have been widely circulated and are available to download from the Drugs.ie website, (www.drugs.ie/resources/factsheets/) or by direct request from the HSE.


In response to specific concerns regarding the use of nitrous oxide, drug and alcohol task forces have taken a pro-active approach to communicating with parents and youth workers the dangers associated with its use. A number of webinars were hosted with the aim of up-skilling local professionals regarding the use of nitrous oxide. Speakers at these events included a UK professional, the HSE, and professionals from local areas in which this had been identified as an issue. The Ballymun Drug and Alcohol Task Force Webinar is available online for those who wish to learn more about the topic: www.drugs.ie/features/feature/ballymun_drug_and_alcohol_task_force_webinar


The HSE use social media to educate the public about nitrous oxide, the risks associated with its use and how to reduce the harms. This content is aimed at those over the age of 18 years, as well as parents, to encourage them to provide information and education to those under the age of 18. Messages have been shared as part of this online campaign about the impact of long-term use of nitrous oxide, the associated risks, and how people can reduce the harms to their health.


Under the national drugs strategy, the Dept of Health has established a strategic implementation group to focus and drive Prevention, Education and Awareness to build skills and confidence in young people and encourage healthy choices and behaviour. The Dept will soon announce details of a funding programme to encourage the development of evidence-based prevention measures


I am very supportive of the efforts of An Garda Síochána in confiscating supplies of nitrous oxide. I am committed to continuing to resource harm reduction and prevention and education campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the risks of drug use, including nitrous oxide.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Inhalents and solvents
Intervention Type
Prevention, Harm reduction
21 June 2022

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