C

Alabama Grade Card

Population Covered: 4,903,185

Tobacco 21 Since: August 1, 2021

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation evaluated all current statewide Tobacco 21 laws for their alignment with best practices that lead to effective prevention of youth initiation of tobacco and nicotine products.

ENFORCEMENT
GRADE: F

Designated Enforcement Agency

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Best Practice:

Health Department or Designated Agency

Alabama Enforcement:

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is the designated enforcement agency.

Age Verification

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Best Practice:

Before distributing any tobacco product, the tobacco retailer or the tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall verify that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age. Each tobacco retailer or tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall examine the purchaser’s government-issued photographic identification if the purchaser appears to be under 30 years of age.

Alabama Enforcement:

Identification verification is not required in state code.

Who is the Penalty Placed on?

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Best Practice:

The primary burden for sales to underage purchasers should fall on the retailer who is profiting from the sales of the product and not the purchaser or non-management employee.

Alabama Enforcement:

Penalty placed on retailer, clerk, and “Person”.

Number of Compliance Checks

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Best Practice:

Provide authority for the state, county, or municipality to inspect tobacco retailers for compliance with MLSA 21 and a mandated minimum number of annual compliance checks. Model recommends two per year for every tobacco retail establishment.

Alabama Enforcement:

Compliance checks are random without a mandated minimum number of annual checks.

Compliance Checks Done With Underage Decoys Aged 18-20

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Best Practice:

The designated agency shall conduct compliance checks by engaging persons between the ages of 18 and 20 to enter the tobacco retail establishment to attempt to purchase tobacco products.

Alabama Enforcement:

Decoy age is not specified.

LICENSING
GRADE: B

Statewide Tobacco Retail License

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive tobacco retail license allows states and municipalities to regulate all tobacco retailers, fund enforcement programs, and create a penalty structure that suspends or revokes a license for retailers that continue to violate a MLSA 21 law.

Alabama Licensing:

Alabama has a statewide comprehensive Tobacco Retail License.

Tobacco Retail License Program Funds Enforcement

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Best Practice

The fee for a tobacco retail sales license shall be set and used to cover the administrative cost for licensing administration, education and training, retail inspections, and unannounced compliance checks. The tobacco retail sales license fee should not exceed the cost of the regulatory program authorized beyond the statute/ordinance.

Alabama Licensing:

Alabama’s Tobacco Retail License does not have a license fee to fund enforcement.

Tobacco Retail License Fee

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Best Practice:

An effective licensing system requires tobacco retailers to pay an annual license fee and allows it to be periodically adjusted. Fee must be adequate to cover License administration, education/training, and enforcement. An annual fee of lower than $300 is generally inadequate to fund a licensing program.

Alabama Licensing:

Alabama’s Tobacco Retail License renews annually, but does not have a license fee to fund enforcement.

PENALTIES
GRADE: C

Penalty Type

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Best Practice:

Establish a civil penalty structure for violations rather than a criminal penalty structure.

Alabama Penalties:

Penalties can be either civil or criminal.

Violation Accrual Period

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Best Practice:

36 months

Alabama Penalties:

Alabama has a 24 month violation accrual period.

Monetary Penalty and Suspension Structure

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Best Practice:

1st violation = $500
2nd violation = $750 and (7) day suspension
3rd violation = $1,000 and (30) day suspension
4th violation = $1000 and (3) year suspension

Alabama Penalties:

Penalties and license suspension are discretionary.

1st Violation = Permit holder will have opportunity to provide training sessions in lieu of an administrative fine of not more than $200.

2nd Violation = Fine of not more than $400

3rd Violation = Fine of not more than $750

4th Violation = Fine of not more than $1,000 and may suspend or revoke the permit

Does the Law Penalize Youth for Purchase, Use or Possession

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Best Practice:

An evidence-based, best practices tobacco MLSA 21 policy should focus penalties on the tobacco retailer who profits from the illegal sale rather than the youth who is likely addicted to the product. PUP laws may be unlikely to reduce youth smoking significantly.

Alabama Penalties:

Alabama penalizes youth for purchase, use, and possession of tobacco products.

PREEMPTION
GRADE: A

Does Preemption exist, was it added, or expanded

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Best Practice:

Local governments have a critical role in reducing the deadly toll of tobacco by regulating sales and restricting youth access to these products to prevent use and addiction.

Tobacco 21 legislation should not introduce new tobacco control preemption, nor expand existing tobacco control preemption, and instead should be used as an opportunity to assert local authority or repeal existing tobacco control preemption.

Alabama Preemption:

Alabama does not have existing preemption.

DEFINITIONS
GRADE: A

Definitions

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive definition will cover all current, known tobacco and nicotine products, which include not only cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, but also products like pipes, rolling papers, electronic smoking devices, and other related devices. A strong definition will also be broad enough to capture future products.

Alabama Definitions:

Alabama’s Tobacco 21 law does not include a single comprehensive definition of tobacco products, but does define products separately and regulate them within their minimum legal sales age.