Details emerge about Albuquerque's electronic cigarette ban

Created: 01/07/2014 5:28 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

In the aftermath of a 4 On Your Side expose, Albuquerque has a brand new city law on the books that bans the sale of e-cigarettes to kids under 18 years old.

There is already a law against selling tobacco to kids under 18. The new e-cigarette ban will work pretty much the same way.

The penalty is the same – if you get caught selling to a minor you’re looking at a fine of up to $500 and a stretch in the county jail of up to 90 days.

Police officers and other city agents like zoning and health inspectors will be able to enforce the law, and they will be able to work in mysterious ways.

“That could be done with undercovers,” said assistant City Attorney Gregory Wheeler. "That could be done in a variety of ways and since it can be enforced by non-police officers, the distributor is not going to be able to tell who it is. It could be someone undercover, it could be you or I with delegated authority from the mayor.”

Wheeler said tips from worried parents and teachers, or other grownup customers are likely to be a major source of information on violators.

The new law cracks down on the seller, not the underage buyer. The idea is to keep kids from getting hooked on the nicotine in the e-cig vapor. Some of the stuff comes in kid flavors like cherry cola and bubblegum.

It will go into effect five days after its legal publication, so call it a week, maybe ten days.

The ban was Mayor Richard Berry’s idea, following the 4 On Your Side investigation in late November that featured a 16-year-old Albuquerque kid buying e-cigs without any problem at shops all over the city.

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