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Cumbria's top public health doctor is urging pub and bar owners not to use dangerous chemicals in drinks to create "smoke"-filled glasses in the run up to Halloween, after a teenager in the north west had her stomach removed following drinking a cocktail.
Professor John Ashton, NHS Cumbria’s Director of Public Health is warning bar owners to be particularly mindful of the practice in the run up to the Tick-or-Treat festival when many venues are hosting halloween-themed events and may be tempted to use the chemical to create “spooky smoking” drinks.
The craze to create dramatic looking cocktails involves the inclusion of liquid nitrogen within the drink. It was one of these cocktails that resulted in 18-year old Gaby Scanlan from Heysham having to have her stomach surgically removed in an emergency procedure to save her life.
Liquid Nitrogen - LN2 is used in industry and science for its low freezing point. Because of its extremely low temperature, careless handling of liquid nitrogen may result in cold burns.
Gaby is reported to have become breathless and developed severe stomach pain after drinking the cocktail at a bar in Lancaster. She was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary where she was diagnosed with a perforated stomach. Surgeons had to remove her stomach in an emergency operation. The 18-year-old is now in a serious but stable condition.
Professor John Ashton said: "People should not be playing chemistry in public houses. This is a very, very cold substance and it is the equivalent of subjecting your oesophagus and stomach to frost bite.
"Alcohol is a dangerous liquid and Liquid Nitrogen is cold enough to cause severe frostbite upon contact with living tissue. As this case highlights there is a major safety implication and I urge bar owners and managers not to use this substance in drinks that anyone is going to consume. It could have fatal implications.”