Uptick in teen usage, prompts FDA to seek limits on sale of flavored e-cigs impacting Fargo businesses

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Fargo, N.D. (KVLY) Next week, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in the hopes of curbing the surge of teen vaping.

The FDA wants to ban gas stations and convenience stores from selling flavored e-cigs. The agency's commissioner has called teen vaping an epidemic, despite the fact that a person must be 18 or over to buy such items.

The Electric Underground in Fargo was one of the first shops in town to sell vaping products.

“We carry a ton of different flavors. There’s fresh fruit, candies, desserts, tobacco, menthol's,” store manager Cody Ciesielski said.

His store won’t be impacted by the FDA’s decision since retail businesses are more stringent in requiring identification from would-be shoppers.

The popularity in vaping is coming as less people use cigarettes.

“Not everyone wants to go to a tobacco or menthol flavor,” Ciesielski said of vaping. “That’s a huge part of what we do, try to figure out what flavors do you like.”

Melissa Markegard is the tobacco prevention coordinator at Fargo Cass Public Health. She said vaping is a problem among teens in Fargo.

“A huge increase in the number of high schoolers and middle schoolers [that] are vaping,” Markegard said. “And especially with these products, which are easy to conceal.”

According to government data, e-cigarette use rose 77 percent among high schoolers and nearly 50 percent among middle schoolers in 2018 compared to the previous year.

The most popular product used by teens is Juul.

“Nicotine content is very high in a Juul,” Markgard said.

E-cigarettes are so new that many health professionals haven’t caught up with the problems or benefits using them may cause.

“They haven’t been around long enough for us to know specifically what the long term health effects are,” Markegard said. “We know what nicotine does to the adolescent brain, it changes how it develops.”

The FDA is also expected to impose stricter age-verification on online sales of vaping products.