The Tobacco Industry Mirage

Over the years we can point to numerous occasions where tobacco companies have tried to lie and hide the real statistics about the dangers of tobacco use, as doing so would reduce their profits.

This blog will be dedicated to discussing the tobacco industry secrets and lies, and we will go into them later in depth. I think it’s best to start with a quick overview of tobacco control laws in my home state of New Mexico as well as on the federal level.

Tobacco Control in New Mexico

The Tobacco control laws and policies in New Mexico make it unlawful for a person to smoke in indoor public places including the bars and restaurants, at public and private workplaces, in public transports such as buses and taxicabs, in or around school buildings and places providing child care and health care facilities.

However, there are a few exceptions in respect to smoking at public places and these includes smoking at private residence, a retail tobacco store, a cigar bar, a licensed casino or bingo parlour, designated outdoor smoking areas, private clubs, privately hired limousine, up to 25 percent of motel/hotel rooms, workplace of a sole proprietor or a workplace with less than two employees and not commonly accessible to the general public, and television production, a motion picture or a theatrical stage set where smoking is necessary as a part of the production.

The Federal Rules For Law Enforcement:  Appropriate no-smoking signs are posted at the most legible spots of the entrance of all the indoor public places and indoor workplaces. Whenever a violation occurs, the sheriff, police and local fire department with jurisdiction over the location and with the authority to enforce the act properly inspect the establishment for compliance. If a person wants to report an alleged violation, he/she can register a complaint with the sheriff, police or local fire department or the State Department of Health to initiate enforcement.

The Federal Rules For Penalties: If a person aged 18 or above is found violating these rules of tobacco control, he/she is subject to a nominal fine of not more than $100 for the very first violation, $200 fine for the second violation within a period of 12 months and a fine not more than $500 for the third or all the subsequent violation within a period of 12 months. The operator, manager or owner of the establishment is not subjected to any penalty as long as the operator, manager or owner has enforced the appropriate policy and has posted the appropriate signs.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement: A lawsuit was filed by New Mexico, District of Columbia and 45 other states on the four major cigarette manufacturers – Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris – to recover the cost of health care imposed by the cigarette smoking on the citizens. In November 1998, this lawsuit was settled and the agreement was then termed as the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Under this agreement, the manufacturers agreed to make annual payments to the states and also agreed to make some prohibitions on the advertising and marketing of their tobacco products.

Until now, 40 cigarette manufacturers have joined the MSA. Another law enacted by the state of New Mexico to regulate the behaviour of cigarette manufacturers was the Model Escrow Statute. Under this statute, the manufacturer wishing to sell their products in New Mexico has to join the MSA and adhere to the terms and conditions. If the manufacturer fails to abide by the Model Escrow Statute, they will be exposed to civil penalties.