By Cisco McSorley, NM State Senator

The Albuquerque Journal reported on September 17 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warnings to 22 New Mexico businesses and fined one of them this past summer for selling electronic cigarettes to minors. It is of course illegal to sell e-cigarettes and tobacco to people younger than 18. Since the perpetrators include some of the nation’s largest mainstream retailers and convenience stores, including Walmart, Walgreen’s and 7-Eleven, itshould illustrate to policy makers and citizens alike why tough, urgent action is needed at the state and local level.

Earlier the federal FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated that e-cigarette use, or ‘vaping’, among teenagers nationally now has reached “an epidemic proportion”. New Mexico’s youth are no exception. He subsequently announced new, sweeping government enforcement to halt sales to minors, targeting both manufacturers and retailers. Commissioner Gottlieb listened to public health advocates, parents and teachers, and is to be commended for his bold decision - but much more help is needed.

E-cigarette devices heat liquid - frequently infused with nicotine - into an inhalable vapor. They are sold in over 7,000 sugary flavors targeted to kids, like mango, cherry, strawberry and cotton candy. New high-tech, high-nicotine vaping products like Juuls and Blu are addicting a whole new generation of young people, putting them at risk for even more dangerous smoking tobacco use that would reverse decades of progress. More than 30 percent of teens who use electronic cigarettes go on to smoke traditional tobacco within six months of beginning the use the electronic versions.

In addition to the harmful effects of nicotine on youth brain development, e-cigarettes pose other health risks for kids. While e-cigarettes do not contain all of the harmful substances of deadly combustible cigarettes, they do possess dangerous substances such as formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and other toxic chemicals. Some of these substances are known, and some are not. Many of the flavorings have never been tested, for example, and e-cigarette makers do not list their ingredients.

There has been a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in the U.S. in the past 12 months alone, according to the latest data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey. It is no accident. The companies market their electronic products heavily to young people and to kids. The days of Joe Camel may be over, but they have been replaced by slick ad campaigns using social media to convey images of glamor and celebrities vaping.

Manufacturers are never truthful about their marketing targeting teenagers. Millions of teenagers have seen these ads that have made e-cigarettes extremely popular. Smoking costs our state $844 million in direct health care and Medicaid every year, and it results in countless deaths, diseases, and cancers. The overall cost to our state is an astronomical one billion four hundred million dollars. This is a tax on all of us that we pay one way or another—all for profits for the tobacco companies. We can no longer afford to idly sit by as a younger generation is tricked into nicotine addiction.

There is already more than enough evidence that the surge in e-cigarette use by children threatens their long-term health. That is why in the coming meeting of the New Mexico Legislature, I will sponsor several preventative measures to keep kids safe. We should increase the tax on cigarettes and especially e-cigarettes by $1.50. The tax would increase from $1.66 to $3.16 in New Mexico, generating $90 million annually. The connection between the price of cigarettes and people actually smoking is well established. It would keep thousands of kids from ever taking up smoking or e-cigarettes, and save the state millions of dollars in public health, insurance, lost wages, and all the other associated costs. We have seen this legislation before, but now is the time to enact it.

Clean air is a basic human right of everyone. The real health dangers of second-hand smoke from traditional cigarettes is well known, but less discussed is the danger from being in the proximity of vaping substances. Reform is needed to prohibit e-cigarette use in all public places in New Mexico, including government buildings, public schools and universities, and health care facilities.

Without a change to the policy that ignores the use of kid-friendly flavorings in vapor products, the soaring growth in the use of dangerous e-cigarettes by children will continue. Our state must ban the flavored liquids used in electronic cigarettes once and for all.

New Mexico, with its high rate of poverty and large population of at-risk children, is on the front line of the growing threat to public health caused by e-cigarettes. We cannot wait for the FDA or Congress to address every problem associated with it, and we cannot cede authority to the industry to police itself.

Epidemics demand strong action. If we care about the children of New Mexico as much as we say we do, then let’s put the brakes on vaping now.  

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Mary Alice tried out a different format for reporting the lengthy County Commission preliminary budget hearing. Instead of traditional narrative sentences, to do it more quickly and efficiently, she put the name of each speaker before a paraphrased version of their comments. Questions were not necessarily asked by the speaker, but they were answered by the one replying. Please let editor@grantcountybeat.com know if you love, hate or are indifferent about the format. It may lead to how some reports are written henceforth in order to get them out in a more timely manner.

Mary Alice is back, but on slow-mo, trying to catch up with all that didn't get done before she had to leave. And doing everything that happened after she got back! Working on it

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Classifieds: Check periodically to see if any news ones have popped up. Welcome to our new version of classified ads.  We invite you our readers to post your own classifieds, which are available for viewing 24/7 and are very reasonable in price, because you do all the work yourselves. A recent classified for a van brought a sale within two days. It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include one about end of life options, Compassionate Care.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com