Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in New Mexico. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by New Mexico's elected officials:
- Raise the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack and on other tobacco products including snuff, chew and cigarillos;
- Maintain or increase funding for state's tobacco prevention and control program; and
- Protect New Mexicans from secondhand smoke, including in multi-unit housing.
In 2018, the Lung Association's focus was to continue to educate legislators, legislative staff, and the general public about smoking and the importance of providing tobacco cessation programs for adults and youth, and the dangers of secondhand smoke. During the legislative session the Lung Association along with our partners were unsuccessful in an effort to raise the state's cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and impose an equivalent tax on other tobacco products including cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The legislation would have generated $43 million in new revenue for the state of New Mexico.
On a more positive note, funding for the New Mexico Tobacco Use Prevention and Control program was maintained at $5.68 million in fiscal year 2019, the same level as last year.
The American Lung Association in New Mexico's Smoke-Free at Home NM program provides education and support to property managers and owners on the economic and health benefits of implementing smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing. In 2018, the Lung Association continues to help public, affordable, and market rate housing implement smokefree policies building on our efforts from previous years. Smoke-Free at Home NM certified 8 properties representing approximately 1,471 residents as smokefree, while an additional 21 properties implemented our Thinking About Quitting workshops helping smokers who were interested in quitting seek to do so.
Moving forward in 2019, the American Lung Association in New Mexico will once again make it a priority to educate our legislature and communities about the dangers of tobacco use and the importance of a well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation program. Additionally, we will be working on raising the excise tax on tobacco products. With a new Governor recently taking office, the Lung Association hopes a cigarette tax increase will be able to gain more traction in 2019. The Lung Association will also continue to focus on creating smokefree multi-unit housing. It is our goal to provide all New Mexicans with a safe and healthy living environment, free from the dangers of secondhand smoke
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