AN AREA of Chepstow has become a haven for young people who want to buy and inhale nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas”, according to a local town councillor.

Cllr Armand Watts (Thornwell ) collected dozens of discarded gas canisters from a hedgerow during a weekend litter pick.

He believes the canisters are being supplied by dealers who arrive in the area by car.

“I first got wind of this about 18 months ago,” he said. “It’s really depressing and we just don’t want it.”

Cllr Watts said he was seeking reassurances the police were trying to combat the problem.

In a statement from Gwent Police, Sergeant Nigel Callard said: “We are aware of these reports, and are treating them seriously. Officers continue to regularly patrol the areas concerned, and have been working with Trading Standards colleagues to address the sale of nitrous oxide to young people.

“This is a gas with several legitimate uses, and although it can make some people feel euphoric and relaxed when inhaled, it can also cause some people to experience hallucinations, dizziness and difficulty in thinking straight. Worryingly, the consequences could even prove fatal due to a lack of oxygen.

“Young people may think it’s just a bit of fun but it can be hard to judge the amount to use safely, and too much can lead to fainting, having an accident or much worse. Our message is clear – please make sure you stay away from inhaling these substances.”