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Crackdown

Laughing-gas balloons not so funny

Tourists at Khao San Road, Bangkok

Tourists at Khao San Road, Bangkok

The widespread use of illegal balloons containing laughing gas among tourists at entertainment venues has prompted police in Bangkok's Chanasongkram Police Station to crack down on vendors selling these balloons on Khao San Road.

Sale of balloons filled with nitrous oxide gas, also known as laughing gas, is illegal. However, vendors on Khao San Road - Bangkok's famous tourist street - are still selling this balloon to tourists. Some of them have set up stands along the street, luring tourists to pay Bt100 to Bt150 for each piece. The cost of a balloon containing laughing gas is only Bt20.

"After we started arresting these balloon vendors in Khao San Road, in the past few days, they have changed their tactics to sell these balloons," Police Lt-Colonel Pitiphan Krissadakorn na Ayuthaya of Chanasongkarm Police Station said.

Previously, the police in Chon Buri province's Pattaya district had also arrested the vendors for selling the laughing-gas balloons.

Police found that most of the vendors had hidden the gas containers under their pushcarts. Tourists must ask the vendor to make the laughing-gas balloon for them. The vendors spend about 15 minutes to inflate each balloon. "Vendors who illegally sell these balloons would face one-year jail and a fine of Bt10,000 as punishment," he said.

Tourists have been warned to not buy these balloons as the colourless and non-inflammable nitrous-oxide gas can cause severe symptoms for inhalers and some might even become unconscious if there is an overdose. Nitrous oxide is used in surgery and dentistry for its anaesthetic and analgesic effects.

Police Lt-Colonel Nathakon Kumsap, a deputy commander of Chanasongkram Police Station, said he would ask the Food and Drug Administration to give more details about the legal procedures against the wrongdoers as nitrous oxide is recognised as a forbidden substance, not a drug.






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