|The Ministry of Public Security said it is considering listing recreational nitrous oxide balloons, popularly known as funky balls, as a regulated drug and precursor substance. (Photo: Hanoimoi.vn)
The rampant sale and use of funky balls, especially amongst urban youths, has become a major public health and safety concern as experts issued warnings of the substance's addictive properties and its negative effects on the nervous system.
The ministry has been coordinating with various forces to understand the scope of the problem.
Nitrous oxide (NO2) is also known as laughing gas - when people inhale the gas they often burst into laughter. The NO2 creates immediate dizziness and blocks the nervous system, reducing the ability to think, distorting the perception of sound and even causing brief visual hallucinations.
A person exposed to nitrous oxide in a closed room or inhaling it directly can suffer from a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.
It is easy to buy funky balls at bars and pubs, and there are various vendors on Facebook offering to deliver them right to buyers’ houses. Balloons cost between 30,000-150,000 VND (1.30-7 USD) each, depending on their sizes.
According to the ministry, NO2 is not listed as drug or precursor substance under Government decree 73/2018/ND-CP, dated May 2018.
But the ministry has been studying the regulations of the National Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and other countries to list the gas as drug to provide a legal basis to control its production, sale and use.
According to the ministry, no country in the world has taken the step of listing the gas as a drug to be regulated.