For 1st time, national drug drop-off day accepts vaping devices: here’s where to take them |

For 1st time, national drug drop-off day accepts vaping devices: here’s where to take them

For the first time, the Drug Enforcement Agency is collecting unwanted vaping devices and cartridges during its semi-annual Drug Take Back event on Saturday, Oct. 26. Routt County residents may dispose of their devices at the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Recycling Drop-off event at the Knoll Parking Lot of Steamboat Resort.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday marks the Drug Enforcement Agency’s semi-annual “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” and for the first time many drop-off locations are accepting vaping devices and cartridges.

The Combined Law Enforcement Facility, the only registered drug drop-off location in Routt County, is not able to dispose of vaping devices or any items used to administer drugs, such as needles or canisters, according to Cmdr. Annette Dopplick with the Steamboat Springs Police Department. People may anonymously drop off prescription medications and other drugs at a bin in the lobby Monday through Friday during business hours.

Residents wanting to discard vaping devices can bring them by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Recycling Drop-off, serendipitously scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26, the same day as the DEA’s drug collection event. Volunteers can accept those items at the Knoll Parking Lot at Steamboat Resort from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for residents and 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. for businesses.

The agency’s decision to accept vaping devices comes after an 18-year-old Colorado man died of what appears to be a vaping-related illness. He could be the first person in the state to die from a lung disease associated with the smoking devices. 

As of Thursday, the disease had claimed the lives of 34 people across 24 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control, as experts struggle to identify a more precise cause of the outbreak.

The rate of Colorado teenagers who vape is the highest of any state at 27%, double the national average, according to the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.

“I appreciate the DEA is taking this opportunity,” Dopplick said of adding vaping devices to the list of drop-off items. “It is not just medication but also these devices that can be misused.

As she explained, a main reason for the Take Back events is to raise awareness about properly storing and disposing of medications and other drugs. But getting rid of e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices is not as simple as throwing them in a drop-off bin, trash can or household recycling container.

If you go

What: Yampa Valley Sustainability Council Recycling Drop-off
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for residents, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. for business on Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Meadows Parking Lot, 1165 Bangtail Way and Upper Knoll Parking Lot, 2160 Mount Werner Circle

Because many of the devices contain lithium ion batteries, they are considered “dangerous goods . . . requiring special handling,” according to the International Air Transport Association. Drug Take Back sites elsewhere in the country can only accept vaping devices if the lithium batteries are taken out.

The Environmental Protection Agency has linked multiple fires at waste facilities and recycling centers to lithium batteries that were improperly disposed of.  

Several years ago, the DEA stopped assisted some rural areas, including Routt County, in discarding the drugs they collect, according to Dopplick. Since then, the Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office have collaborated to safely destroy the items they receive. 

Jennifer Hubbard, an evidence technician at the Combined Law Enforcement Facility, said local officials are looking into ways for the public to bring by their unwanted vaping devices. 

Previous Take Back events have focused on collecting unused prescription medications in the hopes of keeping them away from children or other vulnerable populations. 

Since the first event in 2010, the DEA has collected more than 11 million pounds of medications, according to a report from the agency.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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