CLEVELAND– Growing concerns over vaping-related illnesses and deaths has changed this year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
The annual event this Saturday allows people to drop off unused and unwanted prescription drugs for free and with no questions asked. The DEA initiative was started to prevent misuse of prescription drugs by families, including children and teenagers.
However, this year the DEA added vaping devices and cartridges to the list of items that can be dropped off to combat what it calls an “emerging public health threat to the nation’s youth.”
Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed 34 deaths and more than 1,600 lung injury and illness cases related e-cigarettes and vaping.
“We’re seeing young people becoming critically ill and die,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, CDC.
On Saturday, hundreds of locations across Northeast Ohio including police stations, hospitals and pharmacies will have drop boxes open and easily accessible between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. People can and are encouraged to safely dispose of all prescription drugs, vaping devices and cartridges.
However, they cannot accept items with lithium ion batteries. Batteries should be removed and recycled separately elsewhere. Also no liquids, needles or illicit drugs are permitted.
The DEA said it takes only minutes and is not only better for your health, but the planet. Over the years, the DEA has collected a total of more than 11 million pounds of expired, unused and unwanted medications.
“No questions asked, just an opportunity to get rid of prescription medications and it’s safer for the environment,” said Special Agent Michael Gannon, DEA.