Albuquerque city councilor wants to make changes to state tobacco laws

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque city councilor is trying to curb tobacco addiction in New Mexico. She says she’s concerned about how many young people in the state are using tobacco and she’s hoping the state will make changes.

For as long as anyone can remember, you have to be 18 or older, to buy tobacco products. “How early they get started, which is usually at the age of 12 years old, sometimes even younger than that,” says City Councilor Cynthia Borrego.

Borrego says that is just too young. She says stats from the American Heart Association show New Mexico surpasses the national rate when it comes to young people using tobacco products.

That is why she is sponsoring a memorial, along with Councilor Isaac Benton, to ask the state legislature to do something about it. “Discussing the state’s tobacco preemption and rescinding that to bring it more to a local level,” she says.

Ideally, Borrego says if the City of Albuquerque could make the rules, she would want to see the age to be raised to 21 and up, in order to buy tobacco products. On top of that, she wants to monitor neighborhoods that are more likely to see high usage and take a look at zoning enforcement in the area.

People in Albuquerque are split in their opinions on if this could really help curb the addiction to nicotine. “Anyone who thinks that these 19-year-olds, 20-year-olds, will just stop smoking is silly. They’re just going to get someone a little older to go buy a pack for them,” says Michael Cunningham.

However, others agree with Borrego. “I think it’s wiser that, for health reasons, for the longevity of your life, to put it at an older age,” says Carlos Garcia.

Regardless, Borrego says she’s prioritizing the health of our youth. “Personally, I think it’s been a long time coming. I do,” she says.

In terms of enforcement, Borrego says it wouldn’t be any different than someone trying to buy alcohol and needing to show an ID. This will have to get approval from city council before getting feedback from the state legislature. It is not on a city council agenda just yet.

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