In South Australia the sale of nitrous oxide is regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (1984). The Act was updated to include regulations that impose new penalties for the sale of nitrous oxide for brick and mortar stores and online businesses.
Changes commencing 1 April 2020
Under the new Controlled Substances (Poisons) (Nitrous Oxide) Variation Regulations 2019 it is an offence to:
- sell or supply to people under the age of 18
- sell between the hours of 10pm and 5am
- make nitrous oxide visible or accessible to the public in retail stores
- fail to display a notice on the premises that details the offence of selling to under 18s.
Retailers selling nitrous oxide must display this notice (PDF 156KB) and ensure it is visible to the public.
From 1 April 2020 sellers of nitrous oxide will face harsher penalties if they fail to follow the new regulations.
- If nitrious oxide is sold from 10pm to 5am, the seller can be fined up to $5,000.
- If the retailer fails to store nitrous oxide out of sight and inaccessible to the public they can be fined up to $5,000.
- If the retailer failes to display a notice on the premises detailing the offence to sell or supply to under 18s, they can receive an on the spot expiation of $315 or be fined up to $2,500.
South Australia Police will be undertaking compliance activities in respect of the new regulations. Members of the public can contact SAPOL on 131 444 to report instances where retailers appear to be in breach of the regulations.
Health information on volatile substances (including nitrous oxide) is available on the SA Health website.
These regulations introduce a solution that puts tighter controls around the sale of nitrous oxide and addresses the concerns and issues raised by community in a timely way.
All businesses selling nitrous oxide are required to be compliant from 1 April 2020.
The introduced regulations do not ban nitrous oxide. They recognise its use in cooking and for other needs, but simply prohibit the sale and supply to minors and puts tighter controls around its sale, including sales occurring between the hours of 10pm and 5am.
You may also notice that in stores selling nitrous oxide, the product is no longer visible or accessible. You will need to approach a staff member to assist you with your purchase.
Store owners are now also required to display a notice (PDF 156KB) on the premises that details the offence of selling or supplying to persons under 18 years of age.
Generally speaking however, the restrictions are not dependent on the size of the canisters being sold. Rather the restrictions apply to the sale and supply of the substance nitrous oxide (as defined by the Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011).
Several of the restrictions apply to sale by retail at retail outlets, and so would not be relevant to businesses that only undertake wholesale activities. For example, the requirements to store canisters in an area that is inaccessible to members of the public would have no application to a business that does not have any retail outlets open to the public.
The restrictions on selling or supplying to persons under 18 years of age do apply to all types of sales and supply, as well as the restrictions on sales between 10pm and 5am. However, we anticipate these restrictions will have minimal impact on businesses that are open during regular business hours only and those that have limited contact with persons under 18 years.
selling or supplying nitrous oxide to minors and/or failing to check identification for the purchaser's age
- selling or supplying nitrous oxide to minors and/or failing to check identification for the purchaser's age
- failing to display a notice on the premises that details the offence of selling or supplying nitrous oxide to under 18s
- selling nitrous oxide between the hours of 10pm and 5am
- visibly displaying nitrous oxide or making it accessible to members of the public.