Syringe access programs are a proven way to slash HIV infection rates by limiting the reuse of contaminated needles, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We know that syringe access is effective; this is just another form of it,” Mike Selick, an associate director at the National Harm Reduction Coalition, told The New York Times.
In November, New York also became the first city in the US to allow supervised consumption sites for illegal drugs, in defiance of a federal law.
Critics of the proposal, which is reported to cost $750,000 (£550,000), have said that the vending machines fail to address the most critical issues around addiction.
“I agree we cannot ignore the devastating data on drug addiction and overdoses without doing more,” Councilman David Carr, a Staten Island Republican, told the paper.
“But I feel it is irresponsible to simply place vending machines filled with syringes and Narcan in neighbourhoods, without providing addicts the support and real assistance they need,” he added, referring to a brand-name version of naloxone.