Western Australia restricts sale of nitrous oxide gas canisters

  • Nitrous oxide gas reclassified as a Schedule 6 poison in Western Australia
  • New mandatory warning labels to be required on all nitrous oxide gas canisters
  • Sales to be restricted to people 16 years and older to protect young people
  • Nitrous oxide gas canisters will be reclassified as a Schedule 6 (S6) poison and their sale restricted to people aged 16 years and over as part of a crackdown on the potentially harmful substance. 

    From 1 October 2022, the sale of nitrous oxide will be regulated under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014, in line with new national restrictions on the sale of nitrous oxide.

    From this date, nitrous oxide gas has been reclassified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration as a S6 poison. The change triggers WA regulations that affect the labelling of this gas and prevent sales to young people.

    Nitrous oxide is used as a medicine for the purposes of anaesthesia, sedation or pain management. In domestic and commercial catering settings, it is used as a propellant for whipped cream, to infuse flavours into alcoholic drinks, and to create mousses and foams.

    There has been growing national concern over the apparent trend of recreational misuse of nitrous oxide for inhalation. The national reclassification is in response to evidence of severe and potentially irreversible neurological damage seen with heavy and persistent recreational use of the gas.

    Canisters must now be labelled with the word “poison” and have specific warnings against inhalation. In WA, S6 poisons cannot be sold to persons under 16 years of age.

    The changes will not affect access for legitimate uses.

    As stated by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

    “I can’t overstate how dangerous nitrous oxide gas can be when it is used as a recreational drug.

    “With more young people using the gas – and with changing patterns of behaviour – it is important we take steps to protect them.

    “These new restrictions will make it much harder for young people to get their hands on these small bulbs of nitrous oxide.”

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