The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its successful National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative to accept vaping devices and cartridges.
The Take Back program was initiated in 2010 with the intent of removing expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs from homes where they could be misused, stolen or abused, especially by children and teens.
The DEA said it has collected a total of more than 11 million pounds, almost 6,000 tons, of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications since the program began. This year's nationwide event, set for Oct. 26, marks the first time the program has accepted vaping products.
"DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative helps get unused and unwanted prescription medications out of circulation and ensures their safe disposal," said 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."
Due to safety and environmental concerns, the DEA points out that it cannot accept devices containing lithium ion batteries and encourages individuals to remove the batteries from the devices before turning them in.
As of October 15th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 33 deaths among 1,479 lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes. The cases span the country including every state except Alaska.
Several states like New York, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Montana and Utah have instituted bans on flavored e-cigarettes which are often targeted at teens. The governor of Massachusetts, meanwhile, has declared a public health emergency and ordered a four month ban on the sale of all vaping products in the state.
The DEA said that more than 4,500 law enforcement partners will assist at more than 5,250 registered sites and 135 tribal locations across the country at this year's Take Back Day. Collection sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. The public can find a nearby collection site at www.DEATakeBack.com or by calling 800-882-9539.