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New e-cigarette law won't change much in Grand Forks, store owner says

A woman displays a package of E-cigarette, an electronic substitute in the form of a rod, slightly longer than a normal cigarette. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

A new North Dakota law that outlaws the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors will have little impact in Grand Forks, one vaping store owner said.

The new law, which takes effect Saturday, prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using, possessing or purchasing e-cigarette devices, alternative nicotine products or any of their component parts. The law will also require child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine containers.

The law, however, is nearly identical to an ordinance in Grand Forks that went into effect July 1, 2014.

Heather Nelson, co-owner of SnG Vapor in Grand Forks, said her store has always prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes since it opened in 2013.

"We've been regulating our sales since we started doing electronic cigarettes," she said. "We've always asked people to be honest about their age, and we ID anybody who comes in the door already, so I don't think this is going to affect us at any point."

Nelson said minors trying to buy these products are few and far between because they know they will get carded at the door.

Since 2014, 23 North Dakota cities have passed ordinances to prohibit the sale of such products to minors. In the U.S., 40 other states have passed legislation similar to North Dakota's restricting underage use, according to the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy website.

Nelson said she thinks there's a misnomer out there that e-cigarettes target young people. She said she has seen such products help people who have smoked for decades quit smoking in a matter of weeks.

"I think helping people quit smoking is a huge accomplishment for the vaping industry as a whole, and I wish people would take the time and do the research and understand what e-cigarettes are," she said. "We're really trying to help people. Just because we have flavors, doesn't mean you have to be a child to enjoy them. Not everybody wants to smell like an ashtray. I don't think it's a fair assumption to say that we're trying to market to minors, because we're not."

There are three stores in Grand Forks that sell e-cigarettes—Vapor Stars, Dutchman Vapors and SnG Vapor—as well as various convenience stores.

Vapor Stars did not return a call for comment to the Herald. The owners of Dutchman Vapors were unavailable to comment.

Anyone caught selling an e-cigarette product to a minor could face a $1,000 fine, and an additional fine could be issued to the underage buyer.

Wade Rupard

Wade Rupard is a reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Rupard is a 2014 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and is originally from Normal, Ill. 

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