E-cigarette sales banned for under 18

Jane Lugert of Lidgerwood, North Dakota, wonders how the state missed controlling the sale of e-cigarettes to minors when the products first began to surge the market.

“I had no idea minors could buy e-cigarettes,” she said last week, exactly two days before a new law took effect in North Dakota to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and all associated products to minors. These products can also no longer be on display for anyone to purchase.

“I wonder how North Dakota missed that one?” Lugert asked.

The ban of selling e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18 was among several new laws that took effect Aug. 1.

Electronic cigarette use, including vaping devices, tripled among middle and high school students from 2013 to 2014, according to national data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products.

The 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey also shows e-cigarette use increased from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 4.5 percent one year later, and from 3.9 percent to 13.4 percent among high school and middle school students, respectively. That amounts to about 1.67 million more youth using e-cigarettes.

North Dakota’s high school youth use of electronic cigarettes is also trending upward, from 1.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2013, according to the North Dakota Youth Tobacco Use Survey.

In an attempt to slow this growth, legislators passed an electronic cigarette law prohibiting minors from using, possessing or purchasing electronic smoking devices, alternative nicotine products or any of their component parts. The law will also require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers, which also went into effect Aug. 1.

Miranda Mikesh doesn’t see a difference between e-cigarettes and regular tobacco products as they all contain nicotine. She was surprised that up until Saturday, minors could purchase e-cigarettes.

Shayne Davidson also was unaware his 12-year-old child also could have purchased electronic cigarettes. He was surprised, but not all that much considering e-cigarette flavors are geared specifically for children, he said.

“It doesn’t sit well with me that kids could actually purchase this. It goes along the same lines that flavored cigarettes and everything else they market toward kids, so yeah, it shocks me a little bit,” Davidson said.

Within the past few years, the number of youth using electronic cigarettes has escalated, said Dave Churchill, Richland County Tobacco Control coordinator. He said every report issued about minors using e-cigarettes shows “more and more are using.”

That goes hand-in-hand with the appeal of e-cigarettes, and the flavors manufacturers are using, such as tootie fruity, grape and bubble gum, all flavors symbiotic with candy.

Churchill said the ban of e-cigarettes for minors is only one piece of the pie. De-normalizing the use of tobacco products is a key to keeping today’s youth from even wanting to pick up either a real or electronic cigarette.

“If you look in the stands at a baseball game, you can see people smoking. Kids say they want to be a grown-up, and they can see that entails smoking. It’s important that communities create vapor- and smoke-free parks,” Churchill said.

“We just can’t be sending the message that it’s OK to smoke. For every kid, their goal is to be a grown-up. What are the things that grown-ups do? Getting their driver’s license is huge. If smoking and vaping are signs of adulthood, that makes kids want to do it too,” Churchill added.

These restrictions are in place due to an increasing number of studies that show the harmful effects of liquid nicotine and an increasing number of youth who are using the products.

Since 2014, 23 North Dakota cities have drawn up ordinances to prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors, but no regulation was required at the state level. Wahpeton is among those with this type of ordinance in place to prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors.
North Dakota is among the last states to pass a sale restriction law. Forty states have passed similar laws to restrict the use of e-cigarettes among youth.

Deb Bozovsky manages Lidgerwood Market, which does not sell e-cigarettes. Bozovsky said she was unaware that businesses could in fact sell e-cigarettes to minors. Bozovsky looks at e-cigarettes as a gateway nicotine product for children in that it could lead to long-term cigarette use when they become adults.

She also isn’t sure about the overall health consequences of vaping and using these products. “It seemed like such a good idea when these e-cigarettes came out. But now they are finding health issues with these too,” she added.

As of Aug. 1, it will be an infraction to sell a product to a minor with a $1,000 penalty and an additional fine for the underage buyer.

source: wahpetondailynews