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Law enforcement to accept vaping devices for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 23, 2019

In this Aug. 14, 2014, file photo, a man exhales vapor as he demonstrates the use of his electronic cigarette in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
In this Aug. 14, 2014, file photo, a man exhales vapor as he demonstrates the use of his electronic cigarette in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
By Shannon Prather (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

For the first time, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and its law enforcement partners will accept vaping devices and cartridges during its 18th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.

The goal of the event is to remove unused and expired opioids, other medicines and now vaping paraphernalia from the nation’s homes, “where they are vulnerable to misuse,” the DEA said.

Nationwide, nearly 1,500 lung injury cases have been linked to e-cigarettes or vaping products. Thirty-three people have died.

“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,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a statement.

Since the events started in 2010, the DEA and partners have collected more than 11 million pounds of expired and unused prescription medications. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs.

Most abused prescription drugs were obtained from family or friends, often plucked from the home medicine cabinet, according to the study. Prescription drugs “are still responsible for the most drug-involved overdose deaths,” according to the DEA’s 2018 Drug Threat Assessment.

There are more than 200 drop-off sites in Minnesota, including the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Anoka law enforcement and EMS respond to prescription drug and illicit opioid overdoses nearly every day, said Anoka County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Douglas.

The DEA Take Back is an important program that brings in thousands of pounds of unused meds and “gets those prescription drugs off the street, out of homes and away from people vulnerable to addiction,” he said.

“It’s one of many proactive tools we are proud to partner with the DEA on,” Douglas said.

The Take Back event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Drop-offs are free and anonymous. To find a collection site, go to or call (800) 882-9539.

DEA and law enforcement cannot accept devices containing lithium ion batteries.

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