In what Doña Ana County Fire Marshal Paul Chavez called “a dramatic gesture of good corporate citizenship,” Bowlin’s Travel Centers of New Mexico has announced an immediate suspension for the sale of cigarettes in all of their New Mexico retail stores due to the fire danger in the state. They will also be limiting the sales of fireworks by selling fireworks only to out-of-state customers.

In a corporate news release, Kit Johnson, Bowlin’s director of operations, said that the lack of ground moisture and general dryness is a concern to the corporation.

“When you look at the wildfires going back to New Year’s Day, it is clear that cigarettes are the leading cause of fires in New Mexico,” Johnson said. “A number of these fires are near roads. That’s a sure indication that people are throwing their cigarettes out windows and starting fires. Bowlin’s will do what we can to prevent this from occurring.”

Johnson cited the fire on Interstate 25 on Tuesday as the final straw for Bowlin’s decision. Johnson also explained Bowlin’s Travel Center, Inc.’s new policy on the sale of fireworks, which will be to ask for identification from all fireworks customers as a means of identifying where the customer resides.

“We will only sell fireworks to out-of-state customers,” Johnson said. “Truckers and tourists don’t use fireworks here. The local residents can wait until the Fourth of July, and hopefully the current dry conditions and the ground moisture level will improve by then.”

In addition, Bowlin’s will continue their practice of handing out informational flyers that direct customers on how to safely and courteously use fireworks.

“Bold acts like this demonstrate how government and the private sector can join forces to protect public safety,” Chavez said. “If every retailer in Doña Ana County were to follow suit on this, we could model for the rest of the state a workable way to avert the need for product bans when conditions are volatile. I applaud Mr. Johnson and the Bowlin’s corporation for their commitment to public safety.”

Bowling Travel Centers, Inc. operates nine stores in New Mexico. They currently have operations in Grant, Luna, Doña Ana, Otero, Torrance, Santa Fe, Bernalillo, and Cibola counties. All but one of their stores is located on an Interstate highway. They have been in business since 1912 and currently employ approximately 150 New Mexicans.

“We will be monitoring things on a daily basis,” Johnson said. “We will keep these two new sales policies in effect until we see some ground moisture and until there is a general sense that things are back to normal. I hope others will do the same.”