Since 2003, when Alabama passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, the state has been attempting to discourage minors from using tobacco products. The new laws, which are going into effect from the first of August, are a further effort towards achieving the same goal.
Earlier this year, Governor Kay Ivey has signed House Bill 41. One of its sponsors is the representative Barbara Drummond. She has stated that the new laws are for the welfare and health of Alabama’s young people.
Drummond got an unpleasant surprise when she noticed a Sunday school student of hers with a Juul. At first, she believed that the object was a flash drive. She added that the student is 12 years of age and should not own a device with unknown health risks.
Legislators had such concerns in mind when writing the new law which entails the following:
- A requirement for vape shops to own a tobacco license. The process to obtain one is long, complicated, and comes with a $50 fee.
- Prohibition of any advertisement of vaping and similar nicotine products as a healthy replacement for smoking. Vape products and e-cigarettes are now under the regulation of the AlcoholicBeverage Control Board.
- Anyone below the age of 19 cannot purchase nicotine and vape products. If a retailer violates this rule, they may face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $300.
- Prohibition of advertisement of vaping products in a school’s vicinity. Also, vaping shops cannot operate within a thousand feet of a school, park, playground, child care facility, public library, youth center, or a church.
- Limitation of Billboard advertisement for vaping liquids to no more than three flavors (menthol, mint, and tobacco). Critics believe that the fruit-flavored liquids entice young users.
Drummond stated that, although the use of tobacco has been going down, vaping has become an epidemic among the younger generation. She believes that the new bill will help since, up until now, even the first graders had easy access to the product.
In 2018, local leaders had expressed their support for the bill.
Kimberly Cook, an outspoken member of the Vestavia Hills Council, had shown concern for the future of the children who vaped. She felt that the students who finish High School without a vaping habit, have a high chance to get through college without developing a nicotine addiction.
According to the research done by the Alabama Retail Association, there are nearly 8,000 retailers selling tobacco products. It is unclear how many have been offering vaping products since they did not need a license. Previously, Alabama was one of the last three states which have not regulated vaping.
Currently, the FDA is in the process of gathering data on any potential benefits of vaping as a smoking alternative.