1. Increase funding for the Alabama tobacco prevention and control program;
2. Pass a comprehensive statewide smokefree law that protects all workers and patrons from secondhand smoke; and
3. Increase Alabama's taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and establishing a tax on electronic cigarettes.
Similar to 2019, certain members of the Alabama legislature had significant interest in the regulation of e-cigarette products. Representative Drummond introduced House Bill 119 to reduce kids' access to e-cigarettes and protect them from a lifelong addiction to tobacco and nicotine. House Bill 119 would have aligned Alabama's statute with federal law increasing the sales age of tobacco products to 21 years of age. The bill was referred and passed out of the House State Government committee with no further action taken. Representative Weaver introduced House Bill 104 to add electronic cigarettes to Alabama's Clean Indoor Air Law. Unfortunately, HB104 would not have had any public health impact given Alabama's current law allows businesses the option to allow smoking or not. The bill was referred and passed out of the House Commerce and Small Business Committee with no further action taken.
In the past few years, Alabama local municipalities have been taking the lead on public health issues by implementing strong smokefree ordinances. Unfortunately, no local municipalities passed smokefree air ordinances to protect their workers and residents from exposure to secondhand smoke in 2020. Tobacco control partners continue to be engaged with community education on the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke across Alabama. The Lung Association plays a prominent role by offering technical assistance on the best practices of tobacco prevention and control. The Alabama Department of Public Health continues to affect social norm change around tobacco use, address the marketing of tobacco products to youth, and promote policies that eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke through the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
In 2021, the American Lung Association in Alabama will advocate for increased funding for the tobacco prevention and control program while continuing to educate state legislators on best practices for tobacco control, including the benefits of a comprehensive statewide smokefree law. In order to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use in Alabama, state legislators will need to recognize the health and economic burden of tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure by enacting public health protections and investing in evidence-based tobacco prevention programs. The Lung Association will continue to work with partners in the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Alabama to ensure successful passage and preservation of comprehensive local smokefree ordinances.
Economic Cost Due to Smoking: $1,885,747,576
Adult Smoking Rate: 20.2%
High School Smoking Rate: 7.1%
High School Tobacco Use Rate: 26.7%
Middle School Smoking Rate: 3.4%
Smoking Attributable Deaths per Year: 8,650
Adult smoking data come from CDC's 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. High school smoking and tobacco use rates are taken from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Middle school smoking rates are taken from the 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey.