Vaping regulation on governor’s desk; Vape retailers must get tobacco permit, limit advertising, make no sales to minors, under bill

It is up to Gov. Kay Ivey if oversight and regulation for retailers of vape and other alternate nicotine products becomes Alabama law. Wednesday, the Alabama Senate approved and the House concurred with Senate changes to HB41 by Reps. Shane Stringer, R-Mobile, and Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile. If the governor signs the bill into law, it would be effective Aug. 1.

What will be known as the Stringer-Drummond Vaping Act:

  • requires vape shops to have a tobacco permit;
  • prohibits advertising vape and other alternate nicotine products as cessation devices or healthy alternatives to smoking and, among other provisions; and
  • requires the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to regulate e-cigarettes and vape products.

The legislation also in various ways restricts the in-store and online sale of alternative nicotine products and electronic nicotine delivery systems to minors. A conviction for selling or giving anyone under the age of 19 one of these products would result in a $100 to $300 fine and up to 30 days in jail. The bill also prohibits advertising such products near schools and or opening vape shops within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare facility, church, youth center or public library, playground or park.

Although there are more than 15,000 flavors for vaping liquid, under the bill, retailers and manufacturers could only advertise the flavors of tobacco, mint or menthol on outdoor billboards. “They can advertise anywhere but billboards,” said Drummond. Businesses could continue to sell various vape flavors to adults but could only advertise those three flavors on billboards, under the bill sent to the governor.

In Alabama, almost 8,000 retailers sell tobacco products. The number of vape shops in the state is unknown since under current law those businesses are not required to have a tobacco permit.

Meanwhile in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, is the sponsor of legislation (HR 2084) to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 and require more age verification for the online sale of vaping products. His bill has been assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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