The Associated Press
Updated: January 24, 2020 09:02 AM
Created: January 24, 2020 08:55 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are considering a full ban on flavored tobacco and nicotine vaping products along with more robust oversight of retail sales to discourage use by minors and young adults.
Backed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, one initiative would raise the age limit for tobacco sales including vaping products to 21 — in line with recent federal reforms signed by President Donald Trump.
The state bill, from Democratic Sens. Linda Lopez and Gabriel Ramos, also would establish mandatory licenses for tobacco manufacturers and vendors. The license could be revoked with repeated violations for sales to those under age 21.
At the same time, bills introduced in the state House and Senate would ban sales and free samples of all flavored tobacco, e-cigarette or nicotine products amid growing concern over the tobacco and vaping industry’s use of flavorings to attract young people.
The Trump administration announced this month that it will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes favored by high school and middle school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market, and the targeted flavor ban entirely exempts large, tank-based vaping devices, which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.
Advocates for the e-cigarette industry say vaping products save lives by helping smokers quit.
When it comes to licensing tobacco sellers, 28 states already use requirements to sanction violations by suspending or revoking those licenses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New Mexico’s tobacco licensing proposal also aims to crack down on contraband vaping products amid a rash of vaping-related lung illness nationwide.
More than 2,600 people nationwide have been diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifty-seven people have died.
Results of a public opinion survey commissioned by the American Heart Association were released Thursday, showing 62% support in New Mexico for prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products and 73% support for licensing tobacco retailers. The telephone survey of 607 registered New Mexico voters in late December and early January had a 4 percentage point margin of error.
Lawmakers last year extended taxes on tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, while increasing cigarette taxes.
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