For the first time, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be accepting vaping devices and cartridges as part of its National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative, which will take place in over 200 locations in Florida this Saturday with the goal of reducing the amount of potentially dangerous unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs in the nation's households.
The initiative is designed to reduce the amount of Americans who misuse controlled prescription drugs. Studies show that in many of these cases, the drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
"DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative helps get unused and unwanted prescription medications out of circulation and ensures their safe disposal," said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. "This year, we are taking a step further by accepting vaping devices and cartridges as we work with our federal partners to combat this emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth."
Since 2010, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has taken place biannually with thousands of collection sites all over the country.
This year's addition of vaping devices to the list of accepted items comes amid nationwide concern over illnesses and death caused by vaping and the persistent popularity of vaping among youth. Over the last six months, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has counted 1,479 cases of a mysterious lung disease linked to vaping, and at least 33 people have died.
The initiative also seeks to address the nation's ongoing opioid crisis: according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die every day in the U.S. from an opioid overdose.
"I encourage everyone in our South Florida community to bring their unused, unwanted or expired medications, as well as vaping devices and cartridges," said Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida. "Help us stop the wake of destruction and devastation caused by the opioid crisis and protect our loved ones from harm."
Members of the public are invited to find nearby collection sites at www.DEATakeBack.com, or by calling 800-882-9539 or the DEA Miami Office at 571-362-3098. The service is free and anonymous, and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on October 26.
The DEA cannot accept vaping devices that contain lithium ion batteries. If the batteries cannot be removed prior to drop off, individuals are asked to take them to stores that recycle lithium batteries.
Last Take Back Day in April, the DEA collected 937,443 pounds of prescription drugs at more than 6,258 sites across the country. In total since its inception, the initiative has received almost 6,000 tons of expired, unused and unwanted medications.