NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. -- As opioid drug use has risen to epidemic proportions across the United States, retailer Sheetz Inc. is looking at ways to combat heroin use in its stores.
The convenience-store chain is testing the effectiveness of blue lights in deterring heroin users from getting their fix in Sheetz restrooms. The test is taking place in the restroom of the Sheetz store in New Kensington, Pa., located in Westmoreland County.
The lights are meant to make it more difficult for those using the location’s restroom to find their superficial veins—those just below the surface of the skin.
Local news source Fox WJAC reports that police in Altoona, Pa., about a two-hours drive from New Kensington, said they see overdoses in public restrooms once or twice each month on average.
“The light system in the restrooms at this New Kensington, Pa., store is designed to help our customers and employees avoid dangerous situations,” said Nick Ruffner, public relations manager for Sheetz, in a statement to CSP Daily News. "This system is being tested at just this store for the time being, and it is too early to see the full results at this time or discuss any plans to expand this test."
Opioid use in the United States has hit the c-store industry in several ways. (Click here to see related story.) In 2015, 18 out of every 100,000 people died from drug overdoses, according to the National Center for Health Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates more than 500 locations in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and West Virginia. The chain ranked No. 14 in a year-end update of CSP’s 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States.