Drug Abuse Prevention Advocates Not Cool With Novelty Pens That Look Like Hypodermic Needles

These are similar to those sold at Target and other online retailers, including Amazon.

These are similar to those sold at Target and other online retailers, including Amazon.

In the midst of a nationwide heroin and opioid drug crisis, some parents, teachers and drug abuse prevention advocates are up in arms over novelty pens that look like hypodermic needles that are selling right now at multiple retailers during the Halloween holiday.

Children could be confused if they come into contact with the real thing, says a New Hampshire teacher who first noticed the pens in a holiday display at Target, reports the Associated Press, and urged the retailer to drop the item. They’re brightly colored, with measurement markings and a plunger, just like the real thing, and are labeled as appropriate for kids ages 4 and up.

“Syringes are being found on beaches, playgrounds, parks, and parking lots across New Hampshire,” she told the AP. “We do not need young children confusing real syringes with the toys they got from Target.”

Those who work against drug abuse also think the pens are a bad idea, especially considering the rise of heroin in the country: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that heroin-related deaths nationally nearly doubled — to 8,200 — from 2011 to 2013.

“I think it’s an incredibly bad idea,” Celeste Clark, director of the Raymond Coalition for Youth, an organization in New Hampshire that works to reduce substance abuse told the AP. “Given today’s epidemic that our state is in, it just seems like a no-brainer that something like that shouldn’t be on the shelves.”

A spokeswoman for Target said the company had heard complaints from consumers, but said that the store would be keeping the pens on the shelves.

“We have not made any changes to our store Halloween assortment related to this product,” she said. “At Target, our intent is never to offend any of our guests, and we appreciate their feedback. We have shared this feedback with the merchants for them to consider as they plan for future merchandise assortment.”

Despite that, it appears Target has at least removed the pens from their online store, if this now-defunct link to the product is any indication.

Previously in hypodermic needle pens: Urban Outfitters Features Hairroin Salons With Free “Hypodermic Needle” Pens During Actual Heroin Epidemic

Pens resembling hypodermic needles stir ire amid drug crisis [Associated Press]