Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in New Hampshire. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association in New Hampshire calls for the following actions to be taken by our elected officials:
- Prohibit rollbacks to New Hampshire statutes that would weaken smokefree air laws;
- Introduce legislation to raise the minimum sales age for all tobacco products to 21; and
- Support a cigarette tax increase of at least $1.00 per pack.
The majority of the 2017 legislative session was devoted to fighting rollbacks to New Hampshire's already weak smokefree laws on two fronts. The first bill that we successfully defeated would have repealed portions of New Hampshire's indoor smoking act and allowed the smoking of cigarettes in bars, restaurants and grocery stores again. Unfortunately, this bill got significant traction before ultimately being defeated; however, we did use the opportunity to educate a number of lawmakers that tobacco use continues to remain a problem in New Hampshire and the nation.
Another effort to weaken smokefree laws was through several bills that attempted to ease restrictions on New Hampshire's cigar lounges. These bills included proposals to allow the service of food in the establishments - essentially returning to the days of smoking in restaurants, and the lessening of minimum tobacco sales revenue to allow for a greater focus on alcohol sales. Both efforts were defeated.
In the 2018 legislative session, the American Lung Association in New Hampshire will continue to work to with partners and the legislature and Governor to educate them on the impact of tobacco on New Hampshire's youth and adults. Through the introduction of legislation increasing the retail sales age of tobacco to 21 the Lung Association anticipates many opportunities to discuss the issue. Additionally, the Lung Association expects versions of the negative bills mentioned above to again surface, and will be playing defense to ensure that they do not advance.