New Mexico lawmaker wants to raise legal age for smoking

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico senator is introducing a bill to raise the legal age for those allowed to purchase tobacco products.

Senator Cisco McSorley said the bill to raise the legal age from 18 to 21 for anyone buying “tobacco products, e-cigarettes or nicotine liquid containers” is based on the latest medical research.

“We know that until the brain develops fully, young people aren’t making informed decisions about decisions that are going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” said Senator McSorley.

It could mean a fine of up to $100 or 48 hours of community service for the underage user.

The bill makes the punishment even tougher for the seller, calling for a fine of up to $1,000 and making it a criminal misdemeanor.

“People who are tempted to make a buck selling tobacco products to teenagers won’t do it anymore because it’s too costly,” Sen. McSorley said.

Melissa Cortez, co-owner of Electric Clouds on Coors near I-40, is against the bill. She said e-cigarettes aren’t like tobacco products, that they’ve helped people quit since users can choose their nicotine strength.

“We’re actually against big tobacco. We want to be part of the solution,” Cortez said.

Plus, not everyone thinks a law change is enough to change teens’ choices.

“Personally I think they’d go straight to China and just start ordering these things off the black market,” said 20-year-old Jeremiah Hourigan.

He is one of three workers at Electric Clouds who is under 21.

“I think if you’re old enough to go to war, you’re old enough to make your own decisions,” Hourigan said.

The age requirement would actually still be 18 years old for active duty military personnel under this bill.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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