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Anti-vape bills pass second committees

The bills target vaping devices regardless of the e-liquid used.

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Two anti-vaping bills are moving through the Legislature, each one vote away from passage.

Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Baldwin, sponsors Senate Bill 316 to outlaw the purchase, use, possession, or transportation of vaping devices by individuals under the age of 21. House Bill 319, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, would expand the definitions of an “Electronic Nicotine Delivery System” and “E-Liquid” to include any battery-powered devices that heat substances to deliver a vapor via inhalation.

“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. “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.”

The bills target vaping devices regardless of the e-liquid used. Possession of a vape device with “vape juice” would be classified the same as one with nicotine or THC.

“No matter what’s in it, the science is very clear. It is absolutely harmful for kids to vape anything: to vape chemicals flowing across that battery, or to vape nicotine or THC,” Virginia Guy, executive director of the drug education council said. “Even if it doesn’t have a drug in it at all, the adolescent lungs do not need a chemical flowing over a battery into their lungs.”

Figures presented her bill as complementary to Drummond’s. SB316 does not specify punishment. If both bills are passed, first-time offenders would be subject to a fine of no more than $50 or eight hours of community service. Under current law, individuals under 21 years of age found possessing nicotine are subject to a fine of $10-50. If only Figures’ bill passed, the current minimum punishment would remain applicable.

“This bill is intended to get the attention of the parents so that we can get these children the help that they need,” Figures said. “The school systems, the superintendents, and principals are telling me this is the number one problem they are having in our schools.”

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Guy and the Drug Education Council, a Mobile-based non-profit, worked with both Drummond and Figures on the legislation. 

“We know that we can’t legislate our way out of this drug problem,” Guy said. “We’re not going to prevent all of it, but we can prevent a good bit of it if we can get these these vape devices off of school campuses.”

Thirty-four of the 35 state senators, excluding one who was traveling, signed as a co-sponsors to Figures’ bill. Though only two days remain in legislative session, one of which is expected to be reserved for any vetoed bills, Figures said she had faith the bills will receive a vote. Both bills passed their respective first houses and were given favorable reports by the House and Senate judiciary committees.

Samuel Stettheimer is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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