Last week the UK Goverment published a bill to outlaw legal highs. One of those ‘legal highs’ is Nitrous Oxide, better known as laughing gas, whippits or Hippie crack. I can hear the cry ‘…..oh yeah, jolly interesting, but what’s that got to do with the party industry…?’ . Well, I will get to the point soon,there is more to come. Apparently, after Cannabis, in the UK, it is the drug of choice. That is to say it is the 2nd most widely used drug. It is estimated that there are over 500,000 (mainly teenagers , early 20’s) users.
So here comes the really interesting bit, the main way of experiencing laughing gas is using latex balloons . Now there a number of implications, but we will come back to them. Once again,bear with me .First of all, we can take a look why latex balloons are used. The main risk is unconsciousness or death through lack of oxygen, this occurs when oxygen used for breathing is pushed out by the nitrous oxide. Balloons limit that risk as they do not cover the nose and mouth.
I am not going to be judgemental, as it serves no purpose, there are risks, although they are considered low, using balloons, but they like any drug or intoxicant do exist. Moreover, the new bill aside , it is already an offence to sell nitrous oxide to minors , if it is thought it is going to be used for personal consumption. The other level of risk comes from where the majority of this ‘ legal high’ is purchased, the net. As a consequence , the users cannot be certain it is nitrous oxide and have no idea whether it has contaminated and if so with what?,
Ok, we can come back to the implications for the party industry. 500,000 people equals 500,000 balloons. That assumes that they only do it once a year. I will leave the maths to the reader. Needless to say we are not talking about a insignificant Your worst nightmare, is if someone buys balloons from you and has a natural latex allergy. Anaphylactic attack, and substances that withdraw oxygen from your system are not good mixes. If you suspect anyone is buying balloons for this purpose, I, personally, would reinforce the natural latex and allergy warning.
I don’t know if many of you have heard of head shops. They are shops that sell legal highs and associated paraphernalia. In many such shops, there are party sections, and they can be quite substantial. ‘Why?’ You may ask. I suspect it is because the clientele of such establishments are party types , or they are going to parties hence the connection . However, you won’t see many in the party hall at the NEC. Not strictly true, you may stumble across a few.
Where I am going with this and do I have any advice. Nowhere and none, are the answer to both. But the reason for this blog is to flag it up and should any of the media think there is an angle here and approach you, I would propose the ‘…. I know nothing….I am just a party shop that sells balloons like every other party shop, that has been doing so since the nineteenth century…..’ approach.
For those what who want to know the day job of nitrous oxide, it whips cream. Not in a ‘fifty shades of grey’ whipping, but in a jelly or ice cream sundae whipped cream way. So completing the circle. You can have jelly and whipped cream , then round off the party with a short legal high. I said I would not be judgemental.