New Mexico is preparing to impose new restrictions on vaping indoors and levy a new tax on the liquid used in e-cigarettes.
The laws come as the state faces an explosion in the number of young people puffing on electronic cigarettes and legislators debate how to regulate the growing industry.
Starting June 14, the state will add vaping and e-cigarettes to its indoor smoking ban. Anywhere smoking is banned, vaping will be, too, including movie theaters, offices and restaurants.
In July, a 12.5% tax on the liquid used in e-cigarettes will go into effect as part of broader changes to the state tax code.
Sandra Adondakis, New Mexico government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said the indoor restrictions will help protect people from secondhand vapors.
There’s also evidence, she said, that fewer kids use tobacco products when public bans are in place.
“We have a whole generation of kids getting addicted,” Adondakis said in an interview.
Kane Oueis, CEO of Oasis Vape, a retailer with stores throughout the Southwest, said he expects the new tax to raise prices 10% to 25%, depending on the product. He described the 12.5% tax as a compromise.
“This tax is reasonable,” he said, “and we can work with it.”
Adondakis of the American Cancer Society called it a “nominal” tax that won’t do much, if anything, to raise prices or discourage vaping. She and others had pushed for a 76% tax.
In any case, the fight over how to handle vaping isn’t over.
Proposals to ban flavored nicotine solutions — which critics say make it more attractive to young people — and to raise the purchasing age on e-cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21 failed during this year’s legislative session.
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