Anti-vaping bills die in Alabama legislature

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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Two bills known as anti-vaping bills and aimed at curbing underaged e-liquid use failed to pass the Alabama legislative session which ended on June 6.

Senate Bill 316, sponsored by Senator Vivian Davis Figures, D-Baldwin, would have amended current legislation, making it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase, use, possession, or transportation of vaping devices. Supported by the Drug Education Council to cut down on vaping by more than half of highschoolers, a third of whom say they vape every day.

“This bill is more like an awareness bill, showing what an epidemic this is becoming. It’s predicted that we’re going to lose over a hundred people, a hundred children, in the next 10 years if this continues to go on as it is,” Figures said as the bill moved through the Senate. “Children are losing their lives. It causes irreparable damage to their lungs and their organs, respiratory problems, also their brains. They’re getting addicted to it.”

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Making it through the Judiciary Committee and two readings, the bill simply ran out of time and was not voted on before the session closed.

The House of Representatives also failed to pass Bill 319, sponsored by State Representative Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, and State Senator Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman. The bill would have prohibited the sale of vaping products to persons under 21 and made it illegal for underaged individuals to buy, use, possess, or transport vaping products. In addition, the legislation would have outlawed placing vape products in an area accessible to persons under 21 and created a tobacco licensing and compliance fund for the prevention, education, and operational costs associated with tobacco and nicotine products.

The bills were presented in the House and Senate in tandem and Figures said SB316 was meant to grab the attention of parents to cut back on children who use vaping. Public health groups including the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association opposed the HB319, alleging legislation gave too much freedom to the tobacco industry and retailers in Alabama.

Sponsors plan to revive the legislation during the body’s next session.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion in caucus back and forth on that and being able to make sure that we have the correct bill that minimizes youth being able to get these products in their hands,” Gudger said on the June 6 broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal.” “It’s been a decision not to pass the bill in haste at the last day because we’re wanting to pass that but making sure that we have the correct bill so we’re going to be bringing that and it will be one of the first bills that I bring up with Rep. Barbara Drummond to make sure that it happens for next year.”