Bill proposes raising age to buy tobacco, banning flavored tobacco

New Mexico

A state senator wants to make it harder for people to get ahold of some tobacco products while banning others.

Sen. Cisco McSorley is introducing four tobacco bills in the upcoming legislative session to change the cost of products, how old people have to be to buy them, and where they can be smoked.

The M&M Smoke Shop across from the University of New Mexico says most people who walk through the door are college students, but that could change.

Sen. McSorley is sponsoring a bill (SB 60) to boost the age limit from 18 to 21 for people wanting to buy tobacco products like cigarettes, e-cigarettes and even nicotine products.

“Kids are still going to find a way to get their hands on it,” M&M Smoke Shop Cashier Leah Lavazo said.

“It’s somewhat hypocritical because you can go fight for our military at 18 but you can’t buy cigarettes,” cashier Donovan Perea added.

It’s one of four tobacco bills the Democratic senator from Albuquerque is introducing in the upcoming legislative session.

Senate Bill 61 would ban e-cigarette use indoors, including anywhere that smoking is banned to help prevent secondhand smoke inside public places.

“That is relatively understandable because some people find it kind of obnoxious,” Lavazo said. “That’s not a huge deal.”

Senate Bill 68 is aimed at keeping tobacco products away from kids. It would ban flavored tobacco products, which are described as any flavored tobacco or nicotine product including cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco, or snuff.

“I understand where they’re coming from where they want – it does appeal to a younger audience,” Perea said.

Lastly, Sen. McSorley wants to boost the tax on tobacco products, including e-cigs, giving some of the added revenue to the New Mexico Public School Fund.

“I just feel like it’s a necessary evil,” Lavazo said. “We’d still have people coming in and buying the cigarettes regardless.”

The current excise tax on a pack of cigarettes is $1.66.

The proposed law would add about another $1.50 in excise tax per pack. 

KRQE News 13 reached out to Sen. McSorley for a comment but did not hear back.

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