Vape shop owner Missy Alvarez-Currie took matters into her own hands by seeking out to establish the first ever state group for New Mexico. Missy Alvarez-Currie owns the vape shop known as Vape Scape located in Hobbs, New Mexico.
By consulting with widely-respected vape advocate Fig Ramsey, Missy explains just how instrumental his assistance has been. She says, “Fig Ramsey has been amazing, helping me get this state group up and running. His energy level is incredible, its way beyond my spectrum of understanding.”
Thus, the New Mexico Smoke Free Alliance is born.
Nevertheless, the exact date the state group was established on January 21st was a celebratory moment. Then, suddenly on the 22nd they proposed 4 house bills and a senate bill targeting the New Mexico vape industry.
Not only did New Mexico finally have a state group established at the beginning of 2019, now there was sweeping legislation coming down the pipeline. When all was said and done, there were 13 anti-vape state bills proposed in New Mexico.
President and Founder of the NMSFA, Missy Alvarez-Currie, said “I had a Democratic senator tell me — 13 bills proposed against one single industry? That’s unheard of.” She goes onto explain that, when you have a Senator saying this, there is obviously a major problem.
Proposing 13 bills against one industry should never be allowed and it seems there should be some legislation proposed to prevent this from occurring— minimizing the amount of bill’s proposed on one industry.
Regardless, the Governor of New Mexico had plans for a 500 million dollar tax package with gasoline tax hikes, mortgage tax hikes, tobacco tax hikes and so on.
Missy describes the legislative measures being proposed on the vape industry, in which there were flavor bans coming from both the senate and the house side, a Tobacco21 initiative coming from the senate and the house side, a bill in connection with the Clean Indoor Air Act from the senate and the house side, a 76% tax, a 45% tax, a 36% tax and another 45% tax as well as a 5 cent per/ml tax.
Clearly, the tax proposals were preposterously out of control and unreasonable.
In addition, there was also a “Licensing Proposal” which was written by the Vapor Technology Association (VTA), so the New Mexico Smoke Free Alliance (NMSFA) was not actually opposed to this bill because it could essentially clean up the industry. Not to mention, the NMSFA state group is also a member of the VTA national group.
Licensing would separate the actual vape shops from stores who just decide to start carrying vape products as part of their inventory — especially in shops that are not even vape based stores, like shops that simply carry and sell knick-knacks.
Furthermore, the licensing proposal would ultimately clean up the state’s vape market, making it more professional and refocusing the moral compass of the industry.
However, this particular bill eventually fell by the wayside and somehow disappeared, which truly makes no sense because licensing vape shops would literally help create an easier process and system for the state to tax the industry.
The Aftermath of the Proposed Bills
Therefore, the New Mexico state government certainly did themselves a disservice by allowing the licensing proposal to fall through the cracks. Perhaps this is something they may revisit in the future.
All in all, Missy credited the VTA with assisting in defeating the proposed flavor bans. The Tobacco21 initiative also seemed to disappear from the worry docket, which may reappear at some point in the future as well.
Yet, when looking at the Clean Indoor Air Act bill, it would allow stand alone businesses with a single use air filtration system to still vaporize, but if you share an air filtration system with another business, then there would surely be restrictions.
President Missy Alvarez-Currie had 22 shops committed to be apart of the NMSFA, but when visiting the state capitol in Santa Fe, NM there were only six shop owners able to consistently be there for all the legislative hearings and political meetings.
Overall, the Clean Indoor Act did pass, so if you share an air filtration system with a neighboring business, you can no longer smoke or vape indoors. This affects cigar shops and vape shops alike.
Either way, the fact that out of 13 proposed anti-vape bills, the Clean Indoor Act bill was the only legislative measure that passed — leaving 12 proposed bills entirely defeated by the New Mexico Smoke Free Alliance, is an impressive feat to say the least.
The thing is, this one story is only a brief summary of the fascinating journey that Missy and the NMSFA has been on. Thus, expect to be reading more about this amazing underdog tale of victory against political heavyweights.
Missy says, “It’s been a very rough 4-6 months. More states need to step up and stir the pot. You gotta have the courage to stand up and do it or else you’re just gonna end up being a doormat.”