Express & Star

'Whip mouth': Dangerous affect of nitrous oxide craze that's growing in the Black Country

Super strong nitrous oxide cannisters are giving youngsters ‘whip mouth’ which changes the sound of their voice.

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Danger! Smartwhip nitrous dioxide

Smartwhip bottles are 76 times stronger than the small aluminium cannisters that have become a common sight on the streets and parks of the Black Country.

They are normally consumed via a balloon nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, however some users are inhaling direct from Smartwhip bottles which are much more dangerous.

Users who have over-indulged on Smartwhips are easily recognisable due to ‘whip mouth’ which alters the pitch of the voice and makes words sound slurred.

Black Country A&E departments have seen admissions of users overdosing on nitrous oxide increase in the last year, which coincides with Smartwhip bottles becoming more easily available over-the-counter. Today experts warned of the dangers they cause and warned they can make users vulnerable emotionally as well as lead to a damaging addiction.

Nurse Kelly Hughes, who has worked across the Black Country and Birmingham, told the Express & Star: “We are seeing more young people becoming incoherent and displaying anxiety because they have taken too much nitrous oxide.

“Their voices can change as well when they have so called ‘whip mouth’, which is easy to spot.”

Discarded nitrous oxide cannisters are a familiar sight in teh Black Country

She added: “The Smartwhip cannisters are so much more dangerous than the small cannisters. We have also seen users suffer from mental health problems.”

One 22-year-old Smethwick user, who did not want to be named, said: “Smartwhips changed everything, I was not addicted until they came along, I have done four bottles in one night spending over £100.

“I know now not to answer the phone when I am using it.

“Everyone can tell because of ‘whip mouth’. People can tell a mile off – my voice does not even sound like my own.

“You would have had to use about 20 small cannisters to get so high to get ‘whip mouth’ but Smartwhip are so much stronger.

“I know I should not inhale directly from the bottle but I can’t stop myself.”

Smartwhip cannisters are 76 times more potent than metal canisters

The Smartwhip bottles are legal and are used in the catering industry for instant cream and cost between £25 and £40.

Government drugs advice website Talk to Frank is clear about the dangers of laughing gas and urges those who are using it to seek help or advice.

The website said: “It is very dangerous to inhale nitrous oxide directly from the canister, and doing it in an enclosed space is also very dangerous.

“If you take too much nitrous oxide you risk falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen. People have died this way.

“Dizziness, which might make you act carelessly or dangerously.”

Discarded Smartwhip canister in Smethwick

Prolonged use of laughing gas can cause long term health problems.

Talk to Frank warned: “Heavy regular use of nitrous oxide can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12 and to a form of anaemia.

“Severe B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes. This can be very painful and make walking difficult. It can even lead to paralysis, and the damage may be lasting.”

For more information about the dangers of nitrous oxide visit