Alabama Public Health Groups: Tobacco 21 Bill Fails to Protect Youth from Tobacco

Today, health advocate groups in Alabama issued the following statement regarding House Bill 273, which passed the Alabama House of Representatives last Tuesday. 

“We are pleased that Alabama lawmakers are working to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic, which is creating a new generation addicted to tobacco products. Unfortunately, House Bill 273 does not adequately update our tobacco control laws to restrict youth access to tobacco, including e-cigarettes, and reduce youth use.

“This proposed bill does increase the age of sale to 21 for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to comply with the federal law, however it misses the opportunity to update critical tobacco control measures including improvements to e-cigarette and nicotine product definitions, strengthening tobacco retailer licensing provisions, and repealing youth penalties.  Without these important revisions, this bill will not prevent unlawful sales or reduce youth tobacco use in Alabama. 

“HB 273 specifically limits the regulation of e-cigarettes to those containing nicotine while striking language referring to ‘whether or not the liquid contains nicotine.’ This categorization places an impossible burden on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) to attempt to differentiate between non-nicotine and nicotine electronic cigarettes. ALEA is unable to rely on the tobacco and e-cigarette industry to tell the truth given their history of lying about whether their products contained nicotine. This is bad public health policy and will present many challenges and loopholes for the tobacco industry to capitalize on as they continue to addict youth and young adults to tobacco.

“We urge senators to vote no on House Bill 273 as the bill would do nothing to drive down tobacco use in Alabama. Instead, it creates confusion and loopholes for the tobacco industry to exploit and could eliminate years of progress in the fight to reduce tobacco use in Alabama. If lawmakers are serious about reducing tobacco use, they will support strong tobacco control laws, such as enacting comprehensive tobacco retail licensing that will restrict youth access to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and provide a framework for enforcing tobacco control policies.

“Our organizations have decades of experience in proven tobacco control strategies and look forward to working with lawmakers to create adequate and effective policies to reduce youth tobacco use.”

Alabama Citizen’s Action Program (ALCAP)
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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