New Mexico Lawmakers Examine Ways to Address State's Tobacco Burden
Tobacco addiction at heart of three hearings this week
SANTA FE, NM– The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) will be presenting testimony this week at three legislative hearings in Santa Fe that could help forge a new direction in the state’s battle to address the growing crisis caused by tobacco products.
An increase to the state’s tax on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, will be debated at the House Taxation and Revenue Committee hearing on Wednesday, February 20; Medicaid coverage for tobacco cessation treatment will be discussed at the Senate Public Affairs Committee hearing on Friday, February 22; and, a bill to add e-cigarettes and close loopholes in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act will be reviewed at the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee hearing on Friday, February 22.
“New Mexico’s biggest opportunity to save lives and reduce health care costs continues to be implementing evidenced-based solutions which help reduce the use of tobacco products,” said Sandra Adondakis, government relations director for ACS CAN in New Mexico. “These solutions include increasing the price of tobacco products, implementing comprehensive smoke-free policies and fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs. All of these issues will be discussed in hearings this week and ACS CAN will be encouraging legislators to do their part to reduce the burden of tobacco addiction in the state.”
ACS CAN has advocated for an increase of at least $1.50 per pack to the New Mexico cigarette tax. Such an increase would result in a 16.4 percent decrease in youth smoking in New Mexico and an estimated 13,200 current adult smokers quitting. ACS CAN also recommends an increase to the tax on all other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, at a rate equivalent to the cigarette tax increase.
At the Senate Public Affairs Committee hearing, ACS CAN will detail evidence showing the Medicaid beneficiaries have a smoking rate that is more than 50 percent higher than the overall adult smoking rate and more than double that of individuals with private insurance. Given this reality providing Medicaid enrollees with access to individual, group and telephone counseling as well as all seven FDA -approved cessation products can help reduce the health care burden caused by tobacco.
At Friday’s House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee hearing, ACS CAN will be on hand to review the importance of protecting all workers from the proven dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke and encourage the state to eliminate existing exemptions in the state law. Additionally, ACS CAN will encourage the committee to ensure the language in the existing law is modernized to include electronic smoking devices. The aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes includes potentially harmful chemicals including nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and, heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead.
New Mexico is projected to have 9,560 new cancer cases diagnosed during 2019 and 3,720 are projected to die from the disease.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.