Most of the provisions of a new law providing further oversight for the vape industry take effect Aug. 1.
Monday, May 17, the governor signed into law Act No. 2021-453 by Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, and Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, which prohibits access to tobacco and nicotine or alternate nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes, to those younger than 21. The state of Alabama first began oversight and regulation of those who sell vape and other alternate nicotine products in August of 2019. The 2019 law also was a bipartisan effort.
Gudger said one of the main purposes of the law is so “we can share in federal funds to regulate vape shops.”
It requires every e-liquid manufacturer and manufacturer of alternative nicotine products whose products are sold in Alabama to certify certain aspects about their products and compliance with FDA regulations. The Alabama Revenue commissioner is to develop and maintain a directory listing all e-liquid manufacturers and manufacturers of alternative nicotine products that have provided compliance certifications. The commissioner is to make that directory public by May 1, 2022. After that date, manufacturers not in the directory that sell their products in Alabama are subject to daily fines.
Synthetic products also would be regulated by the law. Beginning Sept. 1, “no e-liquid, e-liquid in combination with an electronic nicotine delivery system, or alternative nicotine product that, in the case of any such product, contains synthetic nicotine or nicotine derived from a source other than tobacco may be sold or otherwise distributed” in Alabama if the products have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale as a drug, device or combination product.
The law raises the age for the sales, possession and transportation of tobacco and other nicotine-based products to 21, putting Alabama law in line with federal law. Tobacco and e-cigarette sales to anyone younger than 21 have been illegal since December 2019, under federal law. Previously, the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Alabama was 19.
Act No. 2021-453 redefines tobacco or tobacco product as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption.
It further regulates tobacco, electronic nicotine delivery and alternative nicotine product advertising, especially at events where those participating or performing are younger than 21 or in printed or digital materials for which the primary audience is younger than 21.
It also prohibits:
- retailers and manufacturers of tobacco and other nicotine delivery systems from sponsoring scholarships;
- tobacco or nicotine products in vending machines unless the machines are in an area only accessible by those 21 or older; and
- labeling or marketing of nicotine products as candy, cake or pie flavors, food brands or superheroes and other characters that appeal to children. As of Feb. 6, 2020, the only flavored cartridge e-cigarettes that can be made or purchased without risk of U.S. Food & Drug Administration enforcement action is tobacco or menthol. On April 29, the FDA announced it had begun the process to ban menthol flavor in cigarettes and ban all flavored cigars.
Throughout debate, Drummond and Gudger talked of their passion for protecting the health of Alabama’s young people.
The law requires a separate purchase age poster specifically for alternative nicotine products and electronic nicotine delivery systems that also warns of the dangers of vaping.
OTHER TOBACCO-RELATED LEGISLATION
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