A study by North Dakota State University finds that vape shops in the state disobey smoke-free laws.

FARGO — Public health researchers at the North Dakota State University found that vape shops in the state overwhelmingly disobey the statewide smoke-free and clean air laws.

Kelly Buettner-Schmidt, a professor of nursing, led a research team that conducted a public policy compliance analysis measuring compliance.

The other researchers include Donald R. Miller, professor of pharmacy practice; Megan Orr, associate professor of statistics; Katelyn Rykal and Missy Berry, NDSU School of Nursing; and Kathleen Swanson, assistant professor of practice NDSU School of Nursing.

The study was published in the May edition of the peer-reviewed journal Public Health Nursing. According to Buettner-Schmidt et al., the study was designed “to determine compliance with North Dakota’s smoke-free law in vape shops and other tobacco specialty shops selling electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-liquids.”

The study was also structured to include 35 vape retailers that sell devices and liquids that contain nicotine and don’t contain nicotine. The study’s results showed that vaping occurred inside five shops, or 14.3 percent of the ones observed. 5.7 percent, or two shops, permitted smoking and aerosols within the required smoke-free areas.

When it came to indoor and outdoor signage requirements, 11.4% of shops complied with indoor signage, and 48.6% complied with outdoor signage requirements, notes NDSU.

“Overall compliance remained low, although much of the noncompliance was related to signage,” notes the study’s official conclusion.

“Classifying ENDS as tobacco products would require tobacco licensure of shops selling ENDS and e-liquids, aiding in identification of the shops for education and enforcement efforts to ensure compliance with the law and to improve public health protection.”

“When viewed overall, compliance remained low,” said Buettner-Schmidt in a press statement released by North Dakota State University’s communications office.

“North Dakota has one of the strongest laws in the United States to protect citizens from secondhand smoke,” she added. “Even though the state’s smoke‐free law has been in effect since 2012, vaping and smoking still occurred in required smoke‐free and vape‐free areas, according to our most recent study.”

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