New Mexico considers new tax on e-cigarettes

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers will consider implementing a new tax on e-cigarettes, and increasing the current levies on conventional cigarettes and chewing tobacco under proposed legislation unveiled Wednesday.

Several states are examining new tax structures to account for the growing popularity of e-cigarettes and other alternative tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes use a small battery and a tobacco-based nicotine liquid to produce a mist or vapor with no tar.

The proposal from Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, would impose a 66 percent tax on nicotine e-cigarettes at the initial point of sale. Taxes on conventional cigarettes would increase by $1 to $2.66 per pack, and taxes on other tobacco products would rise from 25 percent to 66 percent.

Under New Mexico's current tobacco tax, the state expects to collect $82 million this fiscal year.

Morales estimated that the tax increase would provide an additional $33 million annually. The extra money would be funneled to early childhood education programs at the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.

Other states including North Carolina and Minnesota already tax e-cigarettes.

New Mexico's proposed legislation is endorsed by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association and other public health groups.

Opponents of taxes on e-cigarettes sometimes characterize the nicotine delivery devices as a potential tool to help people quit smoking.

The bill unveiled Wednesday does not tax smoking cessation devices recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, such as nicotine lozenges, gum and skin patches.

New Mexico legislators will convene Tuesday for a 30-day session.

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