Regulation of nitrous oxide supply

Closed 11 Nov 2022

Opened 30 Sep 2022

Feedback updated 4 Apr 2024

We asked

The consultation was about proposed supply controls over nitrous oxide, with the aim of reducing supply patterns associated with increased health harm.

Nitrous oxide gas is used as a prescription medicine, as a food additive and in the automotive industry. It is also inhaled as a recreational substance. Changing patterns of recreational use have resulted in increasing health harm, including damage to the nervous system, behavioural changes and reduced ability to safely drive.

The consultation related to nitrous oxide when classified as a Schedule 6 poison. There will be no changes to the regulation of nitrous oxide as a prescription medicine.

The survey was set up so those supplying nitrous oxide, those using nitrous oxide in food and drink preparation and those using nitrous oxide as an inhalant were asked questions most relevant to them.

You said

A total of 260 submissions were received in response to the online survey. The majority (85%) of responses were from individuals with the remainder from organisations and businesses.

There was variation in responses between the self-identified groups of respondents. Generally, those indicating they used nitrous oxide for home cooking or recreational use and those who identified as a member of the public, were less supportive of any restrictions. Health professionals, organisations representing health professionals and government departments were most supportive of the introduction of additional regulatory controls over supply.

Businesses selling nitrous oxide were of the opinion that additional supply controls would have an economic impact on their businesses.

We did

Advice was also sought from an industry reference group, with representatives from the hospitality, wholesaling and retailing sectors. An expert working group convened by the Mental Health Commission also provided input.

Details of the final proposals are available in the Consultation Report February 2024.

The proposed new rules for purchasing nitrous oxide in Schedule 6 will mean:

  • Businesses using nitrous oxide bulbs for food additive purposes will have ongoing access to these products. These businesses will need to provide their supplier with evidence of their food business registration or liquor licence.
  • Other businesses or institutions will be able to seek approval from the Department of Health to purchase nitrous oxide bulbs.
  • Individual members of the public will no longer be able to purchase nitrous oxide bulbs.
  • Supply of food additive grade nitrous oxide in larger cylinders or cannisters will not be allowed.
  • Anyone (aged 16 years or older) will be able to purchase nitrous oxide intended for automotive use, provided the product has added sulfur dioxide, to deter inhalation.

Results updated 4 Apr 2024



The key focus of this consultation is to obtain feedback about proposals to amend the Medicines and Poisons Regulations 2016, to include additional controls over the supply of nitrous oxide.

The consultation survey asks your opinion about various proposed options for controlling nitrous oxide supply and the potential impact of the proposals on you, your business or your organisation.

Restrictions on the sale of nitrous oxide are being considered because changing patterns of recreational use of this gas (often referred to as ‘nanging’) are resulting in serious and long-term adverse effects for some people. Multiple people in Western Australia have been admitted to hospital with damage to their nervous system, after recreational use of nitrous oxide. The risk of nerve damage increases when the person has used larger amounts of nitrous oxide regularly, over a period of time.

Nitrous oxide is available as compressed liquified gas in small bulbs and cylinders. It is intended to be used as a food additive, particularly in the restaurant and catering industry. Any changes to the Medicines and Poisons Regulations will maintain access to nitrous oxide for food businesses and will continue to allow members of the public to purchase small quantities for use in home cooking.

Please read the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement: Nitrous Oxide Supply for more information about the health risks associated with recreational use of nitrous oxide and the proposed supply restrictions. The proposed changes are intended to reduce the likelihood of nitrous oxide being supplied in a manner that is associated with use in a harmful way. The currently proposed controls seek to limit:

  • The amount of nitrous oxide that can be purchased per transaction or delivery,
  • The hours when nitrous oxide can be sold,
  • How soon orders for nitrous oxide can be delivered and
  • The type of product that can be supplied to different kinds of users.

No changes are proposed to the regulation of nitrous oxide products:

  • for medical use, which are already ‘prescription only’ medicines
  • for automotive use, provided the product is denatured with sulfur dioxide.

How to provide a submission

If you haven’t already, we invite you to read the Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement: Nitrous Oxide Supply and then complete the consultation survey.

The survey will take you around 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Publication of submission

You have three choices on how we treat your survey responses:

  • Publish with your name and/or organisation/business
  • Publish anonymously
  • Do not publish (confidential submission)

The first question of the ‘About you’ section asks you to indicate your choice.

Why your views matter

Your views will help us identify issues relating to the proposed changes to the Medicines and Poisons Regulations 2016.

The information gathered from this consultation will be used in determining which options are taken forward when amending the Regulations.


  • Peak bodies and associations
  • Local governments
  • Health professionals
  • Consumers


  • Feedback