Bonney: New law “huge step forward for North Dakota”
By Harry Lipsiea
Several newly-passed laws officially took effect in North Dakota Saturday, Aug. 1. Among the new legislation in place throughout the state is House Bill 1186.
The law prohibits the sale of electronic smoking devices and alternative nicotine products to minors. Elizabeth Bonney, tobacco prevention coordinator with Lake Region District Health, notes that the legislation is all inclusive and puts numerous restrictions on the sale of electronic tobacco products.
"We feel it covers all the bases," she told the Journal Wednesday morning.
In October of 2014, the Devils Lake City Commission passed an ordinance banning the sale of electronic cigarettes.
The city became one of several in the state to pass a similar law in its community or county.
Prior to the unanimous decision, electronic tobacco products were legal to be sold to anyone.
"We feel the law covers all the bases," Bonney pointed out. "I think it's a great step forward for our state to make this a statewide policy not just a local or county one."
The tobacco prevention coordinator feels that the state legislation saves a lot of time and effort trying to pass laws at the city level.
"Instead of going to each and every city commission, the legislation called the answer and acknowledged that the use of e-cigarettes by minors is a major problem in the state," she stated.
The electronic cigarette business has grown significantly in the past two years, Bonney pointed out. With hundreds of different flavors, the products look attracting to youth. That's ultimately want the cigarette companies want, she added.
"They are targeting our children," she stated. "By putting it in colorful packing with candy type flavors, these products are aimed at the younger market."
The North Dakota law makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase such electronic tobacco products.
The new legislation also made several additional changes. Electronic tobacco products must be sold behind the counter rather than in self-servIce displays. House Bill 1186 also requires that nicotine liquid containers must meet standards for child-resistant packaging.
"The law includes more than just a sales ban to minors," the tobacco prevention coordinator pointed out. "It is very important that e-cigarettes will now be located with other tobacco products and not in self-serve displays."
Bonney thanked the legislature for their cooperation. She noted that the area has several legislators that help push through the newly-formed legislation.
"Our legislators in the state and area have been tremendous to work with," she said. "They were proactive in pushing for a real policy change."
She also credited the city for creating an ordinance months before the sales ban to minors became state legislation.
"The city commission was very receptive and they were incredible to work with," Bonney added. "In the past year, this city has made tremendous strides regarding tobacco policy across the board. One step at a time, these policies are changing the social norm."