Doctors are warning that the use of laughing gas has risen to such concerning levels that it’s becoming an “epidemic” among Britain’s young people.
After a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published in June 2020 revealed that there was “a visible mark of the increasing incidence of nitrous oxide (N2O) misuse” since the first COVID-19 lockdown began, concerns have been continually raised by medical professionals over the effects of the substance and what prolonged usage could do to the body.
Nitrous oxide – which is also known as laughing gas, “hippie crack” balloons, and nos – is now the second most-used drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in the UK, with more than half a million people in this age group in England and Wales found to have used the drug in 2019-2020.
As defined by FRANK, nitrous oxide is “a colourless gas most commonly found in pressurised metal canisters [which] you may have seen lying around in streets outside bars and nightclubs.”
It’s often consumed by “transferring the gas into a container (usually a balloon), then inhaling from the balloon” and this is because “inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister is very dangerous [as] the gas is under such high pressure, which can cause a spasm of the throat muscle and stop a person breathing.”
The popularity of nitrous oxide is believed to be due to the fact that it’s cheap and easy to get hold of, and it’s while it’s known to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and calmness, as well as fits of giggles and laughter, it’s also linked to a wide range of negative side effects.
And now, doctors are warning that prolonged use could cause some serious health issues.
In a now-viral TikTok, Doctor David Nicholl – consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham – said he was seeing large numbers of young people coming into hospital after taking nitrous oxide, and warned that many using the substance recreationally may not be aware of the risks and that it was becoming an “epidemic”.
“At the moment we are seeing an epidemic of young people being admitted to hospital off their legs because they have been taking whippets,” he explained.
He adds that some patients are left with “life-changing neurological injuries”.
“It’s an absolute epidemic and some of these people using this will have no idea that actually they could end up not being able to walk for the rest of their life just for a bit of a laugh,” Dr Nicholl concluded in the video.
It was reported that the Home Office asked the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to analyse the harm caused by nitrous oxide last year, and was seeking advice on whether to make the possession of it a criminal offence.
There were also 36 deaths in Britain associated with laughing gas between 2001 and 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
On Monday night, the Manchester Food and Drink FestivaL (MFDF) celebrated 25 years in the city at its annual awards gala dinner.
17 award winners were announced across the Greater Manchester region, recognised in a range of different categories including Restaurant of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Bar of the Year and Neighbourhood Venue of the Year.
Designed to showcase the amazing talent within the region’s dining community, this year’s categories were jam packed with individuals and stand-out food and drink businesses who have given their all to industry over the past year.
Keep reading to discover who took home what at last night’s event.
Awards categories and nominations:
Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Where The Light Gets In
Shortlised: 10 Tib Lane, Erst, The Sparrows, Another Hand, Mana, The Firehouse, Where The Light Gets
Bar of the Year
Winner: Speak In Code
Shortlisted: Blinker Bar, Flawd, Henry C, Ramona, Schofield’s Bar, 10 Tib Lane, Speak In Code
Chef of the Year
Winner: Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens)
Shortlisted: Caroline Martins (Sao Paulo Project), Joseph Otway (Flawd), Sam Buckley (Where The Light Gets In), Patrick Withington (Erst), Adam Reid (The French), Julian Pizer (Another Hand), Eddie Shepherd (The Walled Gardens)
Pub or Beer bar of the Year
Winner: The Kings Arms, Salford
Shortlisted: Bridge Beers, Heaton Hops, House of Hops, The Kings Arms, Nordie, Track Taproom, Station Hop
Food and Drink Retailer of The Year
Winner: Chorlton Cheesemongers
Shortlisted: Ad Hoc, Chorlton Cheesemongers, Hello Oriental, Coopers Lets Fress Deli, Le Social, Out of the Blue, Wandering Palate
Independent Food Producer of the Year
Winner: Dormouse Chocolates
Shortlisted: Great North Pie Co, La Chouquette, Holy Grain, Long Bois Bakehouse, Polyspore, Yellowhammer, Dormouse Chocolates
Coffee Shop of the Year
Winner: Pollen (Cottonfield Wharf)
Shortlisted: Cafe Sanjuan, Factory Coffee, Grind and Tamp, Grapefruit, Just Between Friends, Station South, Pollen
Food Trader of the Year
Shortlisted: House of Habesha, The Little Sri Lankan, Loveingly Artisan, Mira, New Wave Ramen, Pico’s Tacos, Burgerism
Plant Based Offering of the Year
Winner: Wholseome Junkies
Shortlisted: Four Side Pizza, Herbivorous, Otto Vegan Empire, Ruyi Vegetarian House, Sanskruti, The Walled Gardens, Wholseome Junkies
Affordable Eats Venue of the Year
Winner: Salt & Pepper
Shortlisted: Aunty Ji’s, Bahn Mi Co Ba, Cafe Sanjuan, Levenshulme Bakery, Go Falafel, Mama Flo’s, Sat & Pepper
Foodie Neighbourhood of the Year
Shortlisted: Monton, Prestwich, Sale, Stockport, Ramsbottom, Ancoats, Chapel Street, Salford
Pop Up or Project of the Year
Winner: Platt Fields Market Garden
Shortlisted: The Sao Paulo Project, Suppher, Eat Well Spring Festival, Bungalow at Kampus, Heart and Parcel, Stockport Foodie Friday
Independent Drinks Producer of the Year
Winner: Hip Pop
Shortlisted: Bundobust Brewery, Cloudwater, Hip Pop, Intro The Gathering Dusk, Stockport Gin, Steep Soda, Track Brewing
Neighbourhood Venue of the Year
Winner: Bar San Juan
Shortlisted: Baratxuri, The Easy Fish Co, Nila’s Burmese Kitchen, Ornella’s Kitchen, Osma, The Perfect Match, Bar San Juan
Newcomer of the Year
Winner: Another Hand
Shortlisted: Flawd, The Alan, The Black Friar, Bundobust (Oxford Street), Yellowhammer, 10 Tib Lane
Great Service Award
Shortlisted: Bull & Bear, Dishoom, Hawksmoor, Flawd, Schofield’s Bar, Speak In Code, 10 Tib Lane
The Howard and Ruth Award for Outstanding Achievement
Winner: John and Rosemary Barratt, Stockport Foodie Friday
The Howard and Ruth Award for Outstanding Achievement
Recognising people who have contributed something outstanding to the hospitality industry in Greater Manchester.
How the votes were cast
The shortlists were compiled by the MFDF judging panel, with all categories carefully considered and created to reflect an innovative, diverse, and inspiring food and drink industry.
The shortlisted venues were put to the public vote via the MFDF website where food and drink fans voted for their hospitality heroes.
For some of the awards, the public votes were combined with a mystery shopping visit from members of the judging panel. Others were decided entirely by public vote.
The Independent Drinks Producer of the Year and the Independent Food Producer of the Year Awards were judged by a panel taste test during the MFDF opening weekend.
The awards were presented in partnership with MFDF Awards headline sponsors Bruntwood, and commemorated a year of ongoing innovation and success to further establish Greater Manchester’s importance on the national food and drink scene.
The Manchester Food and Drink Festival continues this weekend, having been postponed for a week following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Read more: Manchester Food and Drink Festival unveils full 25th anniversary programme
Speaking on the 2022 awards,s Alexa Stratton-Powell, Director of Manchester Food and Drink Festival said: “The strength of this year’s awards are testament to the hard work and dedication of all the nominees. As ever, the awards put the spotlight on the incredible talent and resilience of our brilliant hospitality industry.
“Despite hugely challenging times for the industry, we’ve celebrated 112 fantastic Greater Manchester businesses this evening as the reputation of the sector continues to go from strength to strength. We’d like to thank the judges, everyone who voted and the nominated businesses who took part in this year’s awards, as well as our hosts at Escape to Freight Island for a wonderful night of celebrations.”
James Tootle, Head of Retail and Leisure, added: “We’re thrilled to have supported the MFDF Awards this year and proud to have been part of celebrating such a fantastic year for hospitality.
“Great restaurants, bars, cafes as well as talented chefs and entrepreneurs are at the heart of thriving towns and cities, and recognising the best in class is a fantastic way of celebrating the importance of this industry to the region as a whole. Congratulations to everyone who was nominated tonight!”
Feature image – MFDF / King’s Arms Salford
Happy Mondays star Bez handed fine for ‘driving carelessly’ at 90mph
Happy Mondays star has been convicted and handed a fine after being caught driving carelessly on a motorway earlier this year.
Bez – real name Mark Berry, who is famed for being the maraca-shaking dancer in legendary Manc rock band Happy Mondays – appeared in court yesterday after he was caught cutting across an unmarked police car in his Bentley Continental on 3 January 2022.
The Crown Prosecution Service told the court that the 58-year-old was witnessed the dangerously undertaking other cars and driving at excessive speeds through speed restricted roadworks.
The Salford-born dancer then cut across all three lanes of the motorway, in front of a white van, to leave the motorway at junction five.
At this point, he was travelling at around 85 to 90mph.
Magistrates in Warrington heard that police officers followed Mr Berry for 13 minutes, before he was arrested after leaving the M56 at Junction 5 near Manchester Airport.
He told police he had sped up to “get away” as he thought he was being followed by “some kind of weirdo”.
Following the incident, Bez was found guilty of driving without due care and attention at Warrington Magistrates’ Court yesterday, and was subsequently fined £1,009 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £101, as well as costs of £400 – with three points also added to his licence.
Following the hearing, senior district crown prosecutor Neil Colville, of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “Berry was driving recklessly on that night without any thought for the other drivers on the road and it is lucky that someone was not hurt as he was driving at speed and carelessly.
“The fact that he cut across a car that was being driven by a police officer is fortuitous. That led them to follow him and stop him before he could cause any more issues. He has denied his wrongdoing until the end, but has now been found guilty. Some people think the laws of the land do not apply to them.
“Speed limits and road regulations are there to protect us all, and Mark Berry chose to ignore them.
“He has been found guilty and has only himself to blame.”