Atlantic City Moves Ahead with Needle Exchange Program

Atlantic City has become the first New Jersey municipality to challenge the state’s ban on needle-exchange programs; city-council members recently approved an ordinance to distribute free syringes to intravenous-drug users, the Associated Press reported June 16.

The ordinance allows Atlantic City health officials to distribute clean needles to drug users in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. “This is the moral, human, and correct thing to do,” said City Council President Craig Callaway.

The program could be in operation this fall. State Attorney General Peter Harvey said he would review the city’s plans before deciding whether to stop the needle giveaway.

“Our office has serious concerns about any policy or practice which facilitates or encourages drug use, particularly heroin or cocaine,” Harvey said. “We should be focused upon extracting men and women from drug addiction, and making resources available for regional drug-treatment programs, particularly for people who don’t have health insurance.”