New York City councilman Joe Borelli blasted the city's health department on Friday for describing "safe" drug use as "empowering."
"Don't be ashamed you are using, be empowered that you are using safely," a poster on the New York City subway quotes as testimony for overdose prevention. The poster, published by the NYC Department of Health, gives tips on using drugs safely.
Advice includes using drugs in groups and testing drugs for fentanyl.
"No, [NYC Department of Health, heroin addiction is not empowering. This is the opposite of 'harm reduction.' This normalizes injecting deadly life-changing drugs," Borelli wrote on social media Friday.
Borelli additionally criticized the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority for allowing the ad to be placed.
"Does the MTA support encouraging riders to ‘take turns’ using heroin?" he added. "I mean it literally says that. Will they remove this?""
The opioid crisis which has torn through rural states and into cities has been compounded by the increased presence of fentanyl mixed into illegal drugs.
Families Against Fentanyl, an organization raising awareness about the dangers of the deadly synthetic opioid, are asking the Biden administration to count fentanyl poisoning and overdose deaths the same way it counted COVID-19 deaths.
The organization, which is in regular communication with hundreds of individuals impacted by the opioid crisis, sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky on May 10, which the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) designated as National Fentanyl Awareness Day for the first time this year.
"The presence of fentanyl in the New York City drug supply has dramatically increased the number of overdose deaths, and fentanyl is now the most common drug involved in overdose deaths. In 2020, 1,580 New Yorkers died from a fentanyl-involved overdose," according to the NYC Department of Health.