A half dozen cities in North Dakota are considering some type of ordinance to reduce the sales of tobacco to customers younger than 21, said Abby Erickson, North Dakota Health Department's community education coordinator.

Earlier this month, the Devils Lake City Commission voted to ban the sale of vaping products to customers under 21 years old. It is the first city in North Dakota with such an ordinance.

The six cities in North Dakota considering restriction of tobacco sales are taking their cues from Tobacco 21, a national campaign that is striving to raise the minimum legal age of tobacco and nicotine sales to 21, Erickson said.

“In general, there are cities that are interested in different policies,” said Erickson, pointing to the Fargo City Commission recently passing a tobacco ordinance to increase the fines on businesses that sell tobacco to minors.

In Grand Forks County, different options for the best way to reduce tobacco use have been discussed, said Haley Thorson, Grand Forks County Public Health Department's tobacco prevention coordinator. So far, it doesn’t appear the best way to do that is to target only vaping products, she said.

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“It has been our stance to look at all tobacco products,” said Thorson, noting that one of the most effective ways to reduce nicotine use is to raise tobacco prices. North Dakota has among the lowest taxes on tobacco of any state in the country, she said.

"Increase the taxes. That is the most effective way," she said.

Grand Forks will continue to monitor what T-21 is doing and follow its lead, Thorson said.

A national campaign is striving to raise the minimum legal age of tobacco and nicotine sales to 21. Should the legal age be 21 to buy these products?

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