Aug 27, 2013

    Thai cops frown on illegal balloons

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

    Sale of balloons filled with nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is illegal. But vendors in Khao San Road - Bangkok's famous tourist street - are still selling them to tourists. Some of them have set up stands along the street, luring tourists to pay 100 baht (S$4) to 150 baht for each piece. The cost of a balloon containing laughing gas is only 20 baht.

    Police found that most of the vendors hid 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's jail and a fine of 10,000 baht," police said.

    Tourists have been warned not to buy these balloons as the colourless nitrous oxide 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 said they would ask the Food and Drug Administration to provide more details about the legal procedures against the wrongdoers as nitrous oxide is recognised as a forbidden substance, not a drug.