(NewsUSA) – Good ideas often start in your own backyardAlmost two decades before our legislature passed a statewide clean indoor air law, the City of Albuquerque implemented smoke-free air policies to protect residents from secondhand smoke in all workplaces. The importance of local leadership is still clear: many cities moved more quickly than states to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing stay-at-home orders, closing non-essential businesses and public parks."Local governments are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people in their communities. They should be able to pass laws proven to promote good health, well-being and equity, and New Mexicans agree," says Dr. Robert Taylor, President of the American Heart Association board of directors in Albuquerque.The American Heart Association (AHA) believes the ongoing epidemic of e-cigarette use by teenagers can be effectively addressed by cities and counties. This is a serious public health crisis that has spread to every high and middle school in New Mexico."Big Vape" and "Big Tobacco" have addicted a new generation of youth to nicotine and continue to do so unabated as the country is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.The tobacco industry spends almost $37 million annually on advertising in New Mexico, resulting in $844 million in annual spending from smoking-related illnesses ($222.8 million through Medicaid). Corporate lobbyists have spent millions more to convince state legislators to stop communities from passing policies that protect the health of their residents.A 2020 American Heart Association-commissioned public opinion poll found 63 percent of New Mexico voters support communities being able to regulate tobacco locally. This poll was conducted by Brian Sanderoff of Research and Polling Inc.The American Heart Association wants everyone to benefit from smart and effective policies. But when corporate lobbyists convince state legislators to block local governments from passing laws, it can hurt communities most where the need is greatest. Nearly 25 percent of New Mexico high school students use e-cigarettes and 700 youth become new daily smokers each year. Each year, 2,600 New Mexican adults die from smoking and 40,000 kids now under 18 in New Mexico will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.A new research conducted by AHA shows using E-cigarettes damage arteries and blood vessels among young adults. To learn more about the study, click here: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/e-cigarette-users-experience-vascular-damage-similar-to-that-of-smokers-of-combustible-cigarettes?preview=9f28This epidemic could be reversed if cities and counties are given the opportunity to make decisions that best serve the health of their communities.To sign up and learn more, simply text NM to 46839.