The city health department on Wednesday warned New Yorkers of cocaine laced with fentanyl that is circulating in the city.

The department has launched a new pilot campaign warning people about the drug.

Some bars and restaurants on the Lower East Side have been equipped with coasters and posters, alerting patrons to the dangers of fentanyl.

"We're going into bars and nightclubs because we want to reach people who may only use cocaine occasionally," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. "We want them to know that fentanyl is in our cocaine supply, and they are at risk of an opioid overdose."

Staff members are also teaching employees how to administer the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

Officials from the health department said fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, and the opioid was found in 37 percent of cocaine overdose deaths in 2016. That's up from 11 percent in 2015.

Bar employees and owners say they try everything to keep cocaine and other illegal drugs out their businesses.

"When you're buying drugs on the street, you don't know what you're getting. You're getting a bag of powder that you have no idea what it actually is. So it's very risky," one bar employee said. "It's not attractive to me. I think it's annoying. But, you know, that's probably a life decision they're making for them, but personally for us we don't allow that kind of stuff here."

The campaign is part of HealingNYC, the city's comprehensive strategy to address the opioid overdose epidemic.


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