DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Devils Lake is the first North Dakota city to ban the sale of vaping products to customers younger than 21.

The Devils Lake City Commission on Dec. 2 passed an ordinance prohibiting the sale of vaping products through vending machines, the retail sale of vaping products to minors and the purchase and possession of vaping products by minors. The law will go into affect Jan. 1. Penalties for violating the ordinance range from $50 for buyers of the vaping products to $500 for sellers.

Liz Bonney, Lake Region District Health Unit tobacco control specialist, approached the Devils Lake City Commission about restricting sales of vaping products this fall. Initially, Bonney requested an outright ban on the products, but later acknowledged a compromise of restricting sales to minors.

"We worked with the city commission who was very open-minded, very concerned about our children,” Bonney said.

“I approached them with the information about the high rate of vaping among our youth here, as well as, nationally,” Bonney said. “I really keyed on the local figures, so they knew what was happening in our backyard. I let them know we have a problem.”

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The city commission voted to ban the sale of vaping products to buyers younger than 21 at its Dec. 2 meeting. Bonney hopes that will curb the number of young people who are becoming addicted to vaping.

Resource officers at Devils Lake High School and Central Middle School have told Bonney that they have witnessed an increase in vaping, and she has seen it herself in her job as Lake Region District Health Unit tobacco control specialist, Bonney said.

“Between the three of us, we started having discussions about the amount of these products we are finding in the school,” she said.

Bonney is not aware of any deaths that have resulted from use of vaping products by Devils Lake youth, but she does work with students who are addicted to vaping, she said.

“I have one child who started vaping at 11. He’s 13 now, and he’s horribly addicted. I have another young man who started vaping when he was 13, and now he’s 15, and he’s on nicotine replacement therapy,” Bonney said.

She and the resources officers believe the restriction on sales of vaping products will reduce the number of students vaping in school.

“This is a first step,” said Bonney, adding she hopes that, eventually, it will be illegal to sell vaping products in Devils Lake to people of any age.

“In my perfect world, we would ban these products altogether,” Bonney said.

The penalty for violating the current Devils Lake vaping ordinance is $500 for sales or distribution of a vaping product to a minor. Each day the violation continues to exist constitutes a separate punishable offense. Meanwhile, the penalty for a minor, age 14 or older, purchasing, attempting to purchase or possessing vaping products is $50.

Finally, there is a penalty of $500 per violation for anyone who sells or dispenses vaping products through the use of a vending machine in an area where it is accessible to the public and not monitored, or for vaping products that are stored or displayed in a retail outlet in an area or in a way that allows for self-service access by customers.