ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico lawmaker is proposing a ban on all flavored tobacco products, for everyone. The bill would stop the sale of any tobacco product that has any flavoring added. The representative behind this bill says the main goal is to stop kids from getting hooked on nicotine.
“Most of my sales are all flavored stuff. There’s far few and in between that will come and be like ‘I just want nothing flavored,'” says Sabrina Garley, manager of Biroska SmokeShop.
Local smoke shops around Albuquerque say they fear a bill banning these flavored tobacco products like e-cigarettes and vapes will hurt their business. “I thought, ‘we’re going down.’ Definitely, definitely one of our biggest sellers. We’d have to figure out something else to replace that,” Garley says.
House Bill 94 is sponsored by Las Cruces State Representative Joanne Ferrary. “House Bill 94 will prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products and it will define the terms and make sure that we aren’t losing a new generation of kids to nicotine,” Ferrary says, “By removing the flavored tobacco products from the market, it will keep kids from gravitating towards any of the flavors on the market.”
According to the FDA, in 2022, more than three million middle and high school students reported using any tobacco product; about 85% used flavored e-cigarettes. However, smoke shop managers like Garley say they only sell to adults over the age of 21 and believe the flavored products are helping people who are trying to quit smoking.
“I understand, they’re trying to get them away from the children, but as far as what we’re selling, this is for adults, you know what I mean? And so, we’re punishing adults for trying to help themselves is how I feel,” Garley says.
However, Representative Ferrary disagrees. “There aren’t studies that show that vaping does help curb tobacco use because it is a nicotine product. And it is just as harmful if not more because of the way it goes directly into the lungs,” says Rep. Ferrary.
Massachusetts has had a flavored tobacco ban since 2020. Five states have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products. Dozens of cities around the country have also enacted their own bans.