As part of National Prescription Takeback Day, the Oak Park Township will now accept vaping products as well as unwanted and expired medications on April 24.
“Maybe there’s some youth out there who wants to ditch their vape. This would be a good way to do that,” said Kelly O’Connor, Oak Park Township prevention services manager.
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., April 24, drop by the main township office on Oak Park Avenue and drop off old medications, as well as vaping paraphernalia, including collecting JUUL pods, vape pens and cartridges. Hypodermic needles will not be accepted.
“Like the opioid epidemic, the vaping epidemic is alive and well,” said O’Connor. “We still have a lot of kids who are getting addicted to nicotine through vaping devices. We’re just trying to encourage and bring awareness to that issue as well.”
The vaping products and medications will be safely disposed of, preventing the drugs from being misused, leading to accidental poisonings or overdoses.
A program coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Prescription Takeback Day happens twice a year in spring and fall. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last spring’s prescription takeback day was canceled.
Once everything has been collected, Oak Park police pick up the haul of deposited drugs.
The haul is then weighed and recorded. That number is added to the DEA’s national database, which shows the total weight of drugs collected throughout the country.
The DEA recorded 492.7 tons of prescription medicine collected across 4,587 participating sites for last October’s National Prescription Takeback Day. Oak Park’s contribution was a collected 85 pounds, according to O’Connor.
This is the first year the DEA is including vaping products in the National Prescription Takeback Day collection efforts.
“People complain a lot that those little cartridges are strewn about through parks and alleys,” said O’Connor.
Instead of littering or tossing them in the trash, bring vaping paraphernalia to the township.
“E-cigarettes and vape pens can contain lead, mercury and often lithium-ion batteries,” said O’Connor. “These materials can become toxic to humans and animals.”
If littered, the sweet smells coming off of fruit-flavored vaping cartridges could entice unsuspecting squirrels and small children, O’Connor believes.
“They do leak,” she said. “The liquid that’s in them has a lot of nicotine in it so you shouldn’t necessarily be touching them because it does absorb into your skin.”
The township will also be giving away drug deactivation kits and medicine lockboxes to keep drugs safely out of the reach of curious hands. Many of the kits and lockboxes were donated by the Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest and The Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI).
O’Connor invites all to participate in National Prescription Takeback Day by swinging by the township April 24. Those who can’t make it can still dispose of their medications and vaping products by dropping them off at either the Oak Park or River Forest police stations as both serve as prescription drug collection sites.