DEA says vaping devices will be accepted at Drug Take Back Day on Saturday

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is this Saturday, October 26. The event, held each spring and fall since it was enacted by DEA in 2014, is an opportunity for people in cities throughout the United States to safely dispose of prescription drugs, including opioids, in authorized disposal sites in their communities—including those placed in pharmacies.

Now, for the first time, DEA said it will accept vaping devices and cartridges at any of its drop-off locations during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“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, in a press statement. “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.” DEA added it cannot accept devices containing lithium ion batteries, however.

DEA said the announcement sprang from concerns raised across the country over the climbing illnesses and deaths related to vaping, as well as the high youth vaping initiation rates. According to an October 14 letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers report that while current e-cigarette use decreased from 3.7% in 2014 to 2.8% in 2017, it increased again in 2018 to 3.2%. They found that the biggest increase was among young adults aged 18 to 24 years. Use did not increase among middle-age or older adults.

While drug take-back kiosks have mainly been located in law enforcement facilities, over the years many pharmacies have become authorized collection sites for the voluntary program. A nearby disposal site can be found by ZIP code on DEA's website at https://apha.us/DEAsitelocator.