Thursday at Noon: Public Health Experts Hold Rally and Press Conference at NY City Hall in Support of Supervised Consumption Services

Press Release April 10, 2018
Media Contact

Jasmine Budnella, 720-480-5262, [email protected],
Kassandra Frederique, 646.209.0374, [email protected]

On Thursday, April 12th at noon, Housing Works, VOCAL, Harm Reduction Coalition, Drug Policy Alliance, BOOM! Health, SIFNYC, and other groups will continue to publicly educate Mayor de Blasio on the strong evidence behind supervised consumption sites (SCS) as a public health intervention that saves lives.

Thursday’s action comes on the heels of a powerful rally last week made up of 100 harm reduction advocates, directly affected people, housing activists, medical professionals, and treatment providers at City Hall that demanded the Mayor takes a position on the lifesaving intervention of SCS beyond that they are “complex.” The rally, which included civil disobedience, led to a dozen protesters being dragged out of City Hall as they protested Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inaction on supervised injection facilities. The sit-in on the steps of City Hall forced the mayor to use a side-entrance to the building when he arrived.

Advocates are deeply disheartened that the Mayor and First Lady have failed to mention, even once, the that SCS saves lives, despite Health Commissioner Bassett stating that the “public health literature is clear.”  The Mayor has said he is going to release the study this month. However, advocates are concerned that the Mayor has either not been briefed on the vast public literature on SCS, or he is choosing not to take a position because of politics. Advocates will demand he take a position on this issue to prevent more deaths after thousands have already passed away.

What: Public Health Experts Say YES to SCS Rally
Where: Steps of City Hall
When: April 12, 2018 at 12 pm

“In a moment when New York State’s overdose crisis continues to grow–with overdose deaths killing more New Yorkers than traffic accidents, homicides, and suicide combined–we need bold thinking and action,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “If we want to save lives, reduce criminalization, and end racial disparities, we need comprehensive, innovative, and forward-thinking approaches like safer consumption spaces. New York is in a unique position to step up and implement innovative drug policies rooted in science, compassion, and public health as we did with syringe exchanges before. It is the time for New York’s elected officials to lead the way in implementing drug policies that can succeed.”

“For too long, we have watched our fellow New Yorkers die of overdose while the Mayor and First Lady bat around words like ‘complicated,’ ‘complex,’ and ‘soon,'” said Robert Suarez, Community Leader at VOCAL-NY. Safer Consumption Spaces have been proven to save lives and connect people to care, and in the over 30 years that they’ve existed, no one has ever died of an opioid overdose in one. The Mayor needs to stop stalling and come out in support of SCS now before more lives are lost.”


Every seven hours, someone dies of a drug overdose in New York City.

Nearly 100 safer consumption spaces exist around the world. They have been rigorously evaluated and shown to steeply reduce overdose deaths, HIV and viral hepatitis infections, and public disorder, and to increase access to drug treatment and other healthcare. Millions of injections having taken place at some of them, yet not one overdose death has been documented in these facilities.

Momentum for safer consumption spaces is building across the country, with officials in Philadelphia announcing their plan to create Comprehensive User Engagement Sites (CUES), effectively safer consumption spaces, at a press conference on January 23, 2018. Last year, San Francisco’s city health officials said they could potentially open safe injection sites within 8-12 months. Kings County in Washington State has been approved to open an SCS. Maryland, Vermont, California, Maine and Massachusetts have all introduced legislation to approve the sites. Beyond academic research, a growing body of editorial boards and opinion pieces have highlighted the need: New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, US News, Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun, Seattle Times, Bloomberg News, LA Times, The Nation, and the Boston Globe.

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted to support the development of pilot safer consumption spaces. The New York Academy of Medicine and Massachusetts Medical Society also both publicly support safer consumption spaces, and the Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of research supporting safer consumption spaces. In April 2017, more than 100 New York City healthcare professionals signed an open letter in support of safer consumption spaces, urging elected representatives to adopt them as a public health intervention to prevent overdose deaths.

Despite increased spending on treatment, in New York State deaths from drug overdoses increased 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. From 2013 to 2015, 7,213 New Yorkers across the state died of overdose. New York City saw more than 1,300 overdose deaths in 2016 al–a 46 percent increase from 2015 and the sixth straight year of increased overdose rate.

For more background on the campaign for supervised injection facilities, visit

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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