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Authorities in Vietnam are looking to make it the first country to categorize laughing gas as an illegal narcotic and to introduce a ban on the substance.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security stated that the use and sale of laughing gas balloons have the potential to be lethal. The ministry now demands tougher punishment and sanctions for its possession, VN Express reported. Earlier this month, the ministry said it would monitor the import, sales and management of nitrous oxide (N20.)

The ministry also pointed out that it would add the gas to the list of known narcotics and punish its illegal sale, production and transport after investigating its use among recreational users. Existing international regulations will also be used as a reference.

Recreational users use nitrous oxide to acquire feelings of euphoria as the substance targets the neurological system. However, extensive use may cause sleep or memory disorders, as well as a tingly sensation at the extremities.

In 2018, seven people died of overdoses at an electronic music festival in Hanoi, which prompted all music festivals to be banned. Balloons with laughing gas were found at the scene.

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