An East London council has revealed it confiscated more than 1,200 canisters of "laughing gas" - nitrous oxide - in just one Saturday night in Shoreditch in July outside pubs and clubs.
Hackney Council officers seized the canisters under street trading regulations. The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 400 local authorities in England and Wales, is calling for more to be done to raise awareness of the harmful effects of inhaling the gas.
It said the chemical - which is regularly taken at nightspots, parties and festivals - has been linked to a number of deaths. Abusing nitrous oxide can lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in a loss of blood pressure, fainting and even heart attacks.
The LGA estimates that it is used by almost half a million young people across the country. Inhaling the gas is not illegal. Balloons containing it can be bought for around £5.
Katie Hall, chairman of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board said: "It It is deeply disturbing that this drug, which can be highly dangerous, is still widely viewed as safe.
"It is imperative that users understand just how harmful it can be. This gas can kill and much more needs to be done to get this message across."
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