Vapes and cartridges will be accepted at drop-off locations throughout Kansas during National Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 26, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Stephen McAllister said.

"Normally we don't do any liquids, but with this, we are," said Harvey County Sheriff Chad Gay.

The county sheriff's office will host a drug take back event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at 120 E. Seventh St.

For the first time, vapes and vape liquids will be accepted alongside unused prescription drugs.

“The public is welcome to dispose safely of vaping devices and liquids to get these products off our streets and out of the hands of children,” McAllister said.

Starting Jan. 1, the legal age of purchase of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes (known as vapes) and juice for vaping in Newton will be 21. In July a delegation of high school students went before the Newton City Commission to request a “T-21” ordinance that would push the legal age for purchase of vaping and tobacco products to the age of 21. On Sept. 10, Kansas health officials confirmed the first death in the state associated with an outbreak of serious lung disease related to vaping or using e-cigarettes.

Since that time two deaths have been confirmed in Kansas by the Kansas Department of Health ANd Enviroonment — and dozens of others sick from illness connected to the use of e-cigarettes. 

It is time to stop vaping” said Lee Norman, Kansas state health officer and secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases, continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping-related lung injuries and death.”

Members of the student group STAND claimed in July that e-cigarette usage has become an “epidemic” in Newton schools — citing a statistic that 29.27% of Newton High School seniors responding to the Communities That Care survey stated they had used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days. That is an increase of 20% in one year.

Following a collaborative effort including the Harvey County Health Department, Newton Medical Center and Mirror Inc., STAND students asked the City of Newton to make a move that has already been made by some private businesses. As of July 1, Walmart stores nationwide no longer sell nicotine products to anyone under the age of 21.

As usual, the sites participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored event also will accept prescription drug tablets, capsules and patches. Sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study showed a majority of those drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

During the most recent National Drug Take Back Day in April, 4,969 law enforcement agencies participated at 6,258 sites. They collected more than 468 tons of unused drugs. To find a site near you, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov/ and use the collection site locator.