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NYC launches first vending machine for drug users with free crack pipes

The blue vending machine was installed in Brooklyn and can be used by anyone with an eligible New York City ZIP code

Vending machines
Vending machines | Shutterstock

June 7, 2023 8:33am

Updated: June 7, 2023 8:33am

New York City officials on Monday launched the city’s first public health vending machine for drug users, which includes free crack pipes and naloxone. 

The blue vending machine was installed in Brooklyn and can be used by anyone with an eligible New York City ZIP code.

Instead of snacks or drinks, the vending machine offers the potentially life-saving drug naloxone, used for drug overdoses. Other products offered also include safe sex kits and “Safer Sniffing” kits, which come with a pipe, mouthpiece, and lip balm for smoking crack and crystal meth.

The number of overdose deaths in New York City is at record-breaking numbers. So far, 2021 was a record year for fatal overdoses, with 2,668 drug-related deaths. The first half of 2022 saw 1,370 overdose deaths. While the numbers for the rest of the year have not yet been finalized, officials say that the figure will break the previous year’s record. 

According to officials, similar machines installed in Europe and Australia have proved to be effective in reducing the number of overdose rates among drug users. 

"We are in the midst of an overdose crisis in our city, which is taking a fellow New Yorker from us every three hours and is a major cause of falling life expectancy in NYC," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan in a statement.

"But we will continue to fight to keep our neighbors and loved ones alive with care, compassion, and action. Public health vending machines are an innovative way to meet people where they are and to put life-saving tools like Naloxone in their hands. We’ll leave no stone unturned until we reverse the trends in opioid-related deaths in our city," he added. 

About 24 hours after the vending machine was unveiled by officials, it was emptied out. However, officials said they are working to keep a constant supply of goods in stock, including refilling the machine multiple times a day. 

The machine is the first of four to be installed in some of the neighborhoods that have been affected the most by the opioid crisis, according to officials.