MONTGOMERY — Legislation enforcing a ban on vaping for anyone under 21 in Alabama unanimously passed the House in March but still needs to be approved by the Senate to become law.

A similar bill died in the Senate last year in the last few days of the 2023 session. The vaping industry also opposed the bill due to the legislation limiting what types of non-tobacco nicotine products could be sold in the state.

House Bill 65 by State Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile) would:

  • Make it illegal for retailers to sell all vape products to anyone under 21.

  • Make it illegal for youth under 21 to purchase, use, possess or transport all vaping products.

  • Require all vape products to be placed in an area not accessible to individuals under 21.

  • Identify and regulate the specialty retailers of electronic nicotine.

  • Create a tobacco licensing and compliance fund for tobacco and nicotine prevention, education and operational costs. 

According to a fiscal note on the legislation, the bill would increase personnel and inspection costs of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board by a minimum of $805,000 annually. Those costs would be offset by a minimum of $900,000 annually in new receipts to the Tobacco Licensing and Compliance Fund created by the bill for operational costs and prevention education. The funding would come from $50 one-time filing fees, $150 annual permit fees, and $50 transfer fees, receipts from new and increased fines, penalties, and fees levied by the legislation.

The bill would also increase revenue to the Public Safety Fund by a minimum of $300,000 annually from new permit fees in the legislation.

Drummond said, "The effect on these children's bodies in the long run nobody knows. We're working real hard to try to get it passed."

"We passed laws in 2019 to prohibit it, but we did not have resources to enforce it so this bill is strictly on the enforcement side. A lot of the folks who were fighting it last time were other folks, this time it's the vaping folks. What they're fighting is because they have been selling illegal products that are coming out of China and Mexico and because we did not have an enforcement arm, they've become accustomed to selling those products. Now, we're trying to enforce what we have on the books," Drummond told 1819 News on Monday.

Dillon Gilbert, co-owner of a vape shop in Birmingham and president of the Georgia Vape Alliance, told 1819 News the bill would ultimately limit consumer options.

Gilbert said the bill would set up a monopoly for big tobacco products.

"We just want to be able to keep selling open systems, the larger vape devices that are higher maintenance, more expensive that young people are overwhelmingly not using," he said. "If the bill becomes law as is, the vast majority of shops are going to have to close their doors once it's enforced in October. The only legal products left for them to sell would be the same big tobacco manufactured high nicotine, tobacco-flavored disposable products that gas stations are going to be selling."

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