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New Mexico tobacco bill gets final approval

  SANTA FE – A public health bill to regulate the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – received final legislative approval Tuesday night when it passed the House of Representatives on a 40-28 vote. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released the following statement:

“SB 131 is a common-sense bill to keep New Mexico consistent with the new federal law that raised the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21. This is a public health strategy to reduce youth access to harmful and addictive products, but it’s only effective with real enforcement. That is why SB 131 sets up a comprehensive licensing system for tobacco products so New Mexico can fully benefit from the new federal law.

“Licensing is an effective regulatory approach that will allow us to better protect New Mexicans from counterfeit products or dangerous ingredients and to better understand who is selling tobacco products, where they are being sold and to enforce compliance with the Tobacco Products Tax.

“SB 131 will also help New Mexico get a handle on the youth vaping epidemic. Nationally, e-cigarette use jumped by 78 percent among high school students and by 48 percent among middle school students from 2017 to 2018. Currently, one in three New Mexico high school students are using vaping products.”

With passage of Senate Bill 131, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez, Sen. Gabriel Ramos, Rep. Elizabeth Thompson and Rep. Joanne Ferrary, New Mexico joins 39 states that require a license to sell tobacco products and will be the first with a comprehensive structure to regulate e-cigarettes.

Regulation responsibilities will go to the to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department with enforcement falling to the Department of Public Safety. The licensing fees would go toward administrative and enforcement costs.