A bill dealing with several areas of tobacco legislation has been approved by both chambers of the New Mexico Legislature and now heads to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her signature.

Headlining the changes included in SB 131 is an increase in the state’s minimum age to purchase tobacco, which will increase from 18 to 21-years-old. This brings it in line with the federal law that was passed at the end of 2019.

Also in the bill is a requirement that any retailer wishing to sell tobacco products must first obtain a license, as well as a comprehensive structure to regulate e-cigarettes. That license comes at a cost not to exceed $750 for the initial application, and then an annual renewal fee not to exceed $400.

However, a few notable pieces of the bill did not make it to the final vote due to the work of the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), namely a provision that would have prohibited self service displays, such as walk-in humidors. Additionally, retailers selling cigars and pipe tobacco would have been unable to sell products outside of their original packaging, which would have meant that cigars could only be sold by the box unless the individual sticks were wrapped in cellophane. Pipe tobacco retailers would have been prohibited from selling smaller portions than the large bulk bags in which they are shipped from the manufacturer. Finally, the

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 40-28 vote on Tuesday, while the Senate approved it by a 28-11 vote on Feb. 15. It appears likely that the governor will sign it, after praising the bill in a press release on Wednesday. All of the changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.