On Tuesday, May 16, the Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation to prevent children from being able to buy vape products. The bill bans the sale of vapes to anyone under 21. It also established the Alcohol Beverage Control Board as the agency tasked with enforcing these regulations.
House Bill 319 (HB319) is sponsored by State Representative Barbara Drummond.
“This is another bite at the vaping apple,” Drummond said.
“The purpose of this bill is to protect young people under 21 from vaping,” Drummond said. “This makes it illegal to purchase, possess, or transport any vaping products.”
HB319 expands the definition of electronic nicotine delivery systems to include vape products that do not contain nicotine.
Drummond explained that her previous legislation was difficult to enforce.
“We will now have an opportunity for ABC to help,” Drummond said. “I have gotten 1200 vaping violations this year.”
“There will be consequences for those kids that are continually vaping in our communities,” Drummond added.
Drummond asked that the body adopt the substitute version of the bill prepared by the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D-Livingston) said, “I am glad to know that we are going to have something out there, and I look forward to voting for it.”
“Our children are exposed to a lot of things that frankly they should not be exposed to,” McCampbell said.
Drummond said, “This is for the health of our young people.”
“We did not have the enforcement,” in my previous bill Drummond said.
Under existing law, there is no fee for a permit to distribute tobacco, tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems, e-liquids, or alternative nicotine products. This bill would require a one-time application fee and an annual permit fee for the distribution of those products and would provide for the distribution of those fees.
“We do not get any money from this industry now,” Drummond explained. “I have worked with more groups on this piece of legislation.”
Drummond said, “I am only concerned with young people 21 years and younger.”
McCampbell said, “You have evolved from one level of understanding and moved to another level of understanding on this topic.”
Rep. Mark Shirey said, “We are going to have some long-term health problems from vaping.”
Drummond explained that the bill creates “a graduated penalty process for those young people who vape and who continue to vape, especially on school campuses.”
The House voted to adopt the committee substitute.
Rep. David Faulkner brought an amendment to the bill as substituted.
“It has how the fees should be collected and how the fees should be distributed,” explained Faulkner. “On the punishment on sellers, it makes this penalty a ‘shall’ so they will receive that punishment. It is not an issue of ‘may.’”
Drummond said. “I think this will be a great amendment, and I appreciate you working with me.”
Rep. Napoleon Bracy asked, “Can you tell me a little about the penalties? The penalties are enforced by the ABC Board?”
“Yes, that is correct,” Faulkner said. “It is a graduated penalty. So on a first violation, a $500 fine, or subsequent $700, then $1000. Eventually, you will lose your permit.”
The amendment was adopted on a vote of 101 to 0.
Rep. Curtis Travis said, “It is a major problem for school systems. Thank you for bringing this bill.”
Rep. Ron Bolton said, “I want to thank you for bringing this bill and the bipartisan way that you worked on it.”
HB319 passed the Alabama House of Representatives 100 to 1. It now goes to the Senate for their consideration.
Vape industry representatives have contacted Alabama Today and expressed their unhappiness with the definitions in the bill. Additionally, they insist that their products are far safer than smoking and that further cracking down on vape products in Alabama will only lead to products being brought across state lines.
HB319 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which meets next on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Room 325 of the Statehouse. The committee agenda has not been posted as of press time.
Tuesday will be day 24 of the 2023 Alabama Regular Legislative Session.
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