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Wendy Reuer, Published December 22 2013

Fargo begins move to include e-cigarettes in tobacco ordinance

FARGO – In an effort to stop the smoking habit before it can begin, a city ordinance here that regulates the sale of tobacco products to minors will be expanded to include electronic cigarettes.

The ordinance changes will make it illegal to give or sell electronic cigarettes to minors within the city of Fargo.

Holly Scott, tobacco prevention coordinator for Fargo Cass Public Health, said today’s tobacco market is much more than traditional cigarettes and chewing tobacco. With electronic cigarettes gaining popularity among adults, health officials do not want that to spread to the young.

“E-cigarettes have been around for a while, but we’re really starting to see the use increase,” Scott said.

The electronic smoking devices claim to be safer than cigarettes, giving off vapor instead of smoke, but the devices still contain nicotine, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration has not made any formal recommendations to the safety of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are already included in a state law that prohibits smoking of any kind in public spaces, Scott said.

While many adults claim to use the electronic versions of cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking, Scott said the city ordinance is meant to stop juveniles from forming a nicotine habit by using e-cigarettes.

“Nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to quit,” she said. “Not only is (smoking) not healthy, but we’re also doing this to hopefully prevent a whole generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine products. That is our primary goal here, to prevent people from dealing with a lifelong addiction.”

The City Commission is scheduled to hear the first reading of the changes to the ordinance under its consent agenda at its regular meeting tonight.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530