The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP) announces Georgia State Senator Jeff Mullis and State Representative Bonnie Rich as the winners of its 2020 Legislative Champion of the Year Award, for their commitment to protect children from the health risks caused by vaping.
During the 2020 Georgia General Assembly session, Senator Mullis introduced, and Representative Rich sponsored in their respective chambers a bill to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21, matching pre-existing federal law. The legal age in Georgia was previously 18. The bill bans vaping products on school grounds and increases penalties for possession of these products by minors. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp on July 22 and went into effect the same day.
“Senator Mullis’s and Representative Rich’s resolve to make it harder for our children to have access to vaping products, especially around schools, is praiseworthy,” said Dr. Jeff Stone, president of the Georgia Academy. “A generation of Georgia’s youth will be healthier because of the two of them”.
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half a million Americans die each year from tobacco-caused diseases.
Since 2001 Senator Mullis has represented the 53rd Senate district which includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, and Walker counties, in northwest Georgia. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and a member of the Administrative Affairs, Appropriations, Economic Development & Tourism, and Regulated Industries & Utilities committees.
Outside his duties under the gold dome in Atlanta, Senator Mullis is co-chair of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and a member of the Fort Oglethorpe Kiwanis Club, the Chickamauga Lions Club, the Georgia Historical Society and First Baptist Church of Chickamauga. He and his wife, Teresa Nichols, have three children and one grandchild.
Representative Rich has represented the 97th House district which includes part of Suwannee in Gwinnett County, in the Atlanta metro area, since 2019. She is currently the chairwoman of the House Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment Committee, and a member of the Judiciary, Retirement, and the Ways & Means committees.
Prior to her service in the House, Representative Rich taught litigation and ethics to law students. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and her Juris Doctorate degree from Georgia State University. She and her husband, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Randy Rich, have two children.