New Mexico is on its way to joining the states that are banning e-cigarettes under smoking bans. On March 7 the state Senate passed a measure to include vaping in the state’s smoking ban. The vote was 30-10, with some Republicans expressing disagreement not only about vaping being included in the ban, but also with the language of the bill and how it will actually eliminate some outdoor smoking areas that currently exist.
Dissenters argued that there is not enough known about e-cigarettes and vaping to warrant restrictions. In a statement that ironically sounds antithetical to those so often heard from vaping opponents, Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell said, “We don’t have enough on vapor to truly know if it’s unsafe.” But the majority of senators who voted went with the trend to presume vaping guilty until proven innocent.
Senator Pirtle believes that passage of the bill could be a step backward in helping smokers to find a safer alternative. Republicans also expressed concerns about the bill’s definition of “indoor space,” which would change in the overall smoking law to include any deck or patio that is bounded by two walls. That would mean that some outdoor spaces where smoking is currently allowed would be defined as indoors, and smoking – along with vaping – would even be banned there.
Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, supports the bill, saying that with vaping becoming more and more popular, it is time to update the law to “keep up with changing consumer preferences.”
The increase in e-cigarettes use has opponents of vaping scrambling to pass laws to restrict it. So far, several states have included e-cigarettes in their smoking bans including Hawaii, California, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota, Delaware, New Jersey and Maine. Other states like Pennsylvania have hit vaping suppliers with high taxes, and Indiana imposed such strict rules on e-liquid productions that only six companies passed the test to be able to get a permit to do business.
The attitude towards vaping couldn’t be more different across the Atlantic, where British health officials have proclaimed vaping to be 95 percent safer than smoking and have encouraged the UK government to recommend that smokers switch to e-cigarettes.
New Mexico has tried in the past to ban e-cigarettes and failed, but this time, perhaps due to the increase in e-cigarette use in the past few years, the bill now only has to pass the state House of Representatives to become law.