One man's mission to highlight 'laughing gas' dangers with canister collection

By Thomas Parkes | Walsall | News | Published:

"If I stop just one person using them then mission accomplished."

Graham Payne from Pelsall has collected a host of nitrous oxide canisters. He wants to raise awareness of youngsters getting high off them.

Almost 2,000 nitrous oxide canisters have been picked up across Walsall as part of a man's mission to highlight their damaging effects.

The chemical compound, known as laughing gas, has been banned by the Government as part of a crackdown on psychoactive substances in 2016.

Shops are banned from selling the canisters for its effect – but it is still readily available as whipped cream propellent.

Now Graham Payne, who lives in Pelsall, has decided to help raise awareness of the harmful items – having picked them up for the last five or six weeks.

He said: "The canisters are all around Walsall and it's really shocking.

"It's very said to think they are using it because there's been a lot of deaths as a result of nitrous oxide.

"I want to raise awareness because there's a lot of dangerous health implications and I've found most of them at the road-side.

"I tend to think that means they are being thrown out of car windows by the passenger, or worse – the driver."


The 72-year-old said he was "curious" of what the silver shells were, but was later alerted by police that it was harmful.

He added: "It's very difficult and the Government has tried to ban them without success.

"You can buy them online and people do and there are shops across Walsall who serve them over the counter.

"Corner shops sell them and they are sold as a propellant for whipped cream but people don't use them for what they're designed for."


Taking nitrous oxide leads to fits of giggles and laughter – hence the nickname "laughing gas" – along with sound distortions and hallucinations.

They cause short-lived but intense feelings of paranoia, dizziness and a severe headache.

Inhaling directly from the canister can cause a spasm of the throat – enough to stop a person breathing – due to the gas being under such high pressure.

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at


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