A small store in Altoona, Pennsylvania, tested special blue lights in its bathrooms to discourage drug use, the company said.
Blue-toned lights are designed to prevent heroin users from finding their veins, according to the store's cooperative office. That store, located at 325 Freeport St. in Parnassus, is currently the only place with lights installed.
"One of our top priorities at Sheetz is to create a safe environment for our customers and employees," Nick, spokesperson for Sheetz. Ruffner said in a statement to Triblive on Tuesday. "The lighting system in the bathrooms of this New Kensington store (Westmoreland County) is designed to help our customers and employees avoid dangerous situations."
"This system is being tested in this store for the time being, and it is too early to see the full results at this time or to discuss any plans to expand this test," he noted.
This location of Sheetz witnessed an increase in overdose deaths over the past nine years. The county had a record 144 confirmed overdose deaths since Dec. 1, with 179 deaths dating back to November.
Altoona police said they were overdosed in public toilets a few times a month, but more often in cars and parking lots.
The medical director of Gateway Rehab, Dr. Neil Capretto, said the lights could decrease drug use in bathrooms. Still, he added that when desperate, most drug users can locate their veins through memory.
"(They) could probably find a vein with their eyes closed if necessary," he said. "I'm not sure if it's going to have a significant impact, but it's probably worth trying."
Customers like Jan Mills Sr., who frequent the convenience store, remain skeptical regarding the lighting system.
We'll do drugs everywhere, "he told WJAC, an ABC affiliate in Washington." I do not think it's going to work. I can understand that Sheetz does not want it to happen and if that takes them away, that's fine, but I do not think I'm going to do it. "