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Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress
On June 30, 2020, New Hampshire passed HB 1245 and awaits the signature of Governor Sununu. This bill raises the tobacco product sales age from 19 to 21 and now makes Purchase, User, and Possession (PUP) penalties optional and not mandatory. Unfortunately, it does not improve licensing and enforcement, so we will work with the legislature next session to improve the state licensing and enforcement, as well as remove PUP penalties from state code.
New Hampshire currently has a near national average rate of high school smoking and adult smoking rates. High school student’s e-cigarette usage rate is 23.8%; driving up New Hampshire’s overall youth tobacco use rates. An estimated 22,000 children now under the age of 18 will eventually die early due to smoking, with 500 children becoming daily smokers every year. The result is an annual health cost of $729 million that is directly attributable to smoking. The state only spends 7.6% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention.
There is no preemption language present in state law keeping localities from raising the Minimum Legal Sales Age (MLSA) to 21. In fact, R.S.A.Section 126-K:14, provides express non-preemption: “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to restrict the power of any county, city, town, village, or other subdivision of the state to adopt local laws, ordinances, and regulations that are more stringent than this chapter and RSA 78. Therefore, local governments are free to enact ordinances to better protect their kids from addiction. It has been our experience that the most powerful incentive for the state legislature to act is the initiative of local citizens and governmental leaders. Statewide, California, Oregon, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maine, and Massachusetts’ laws began at the local level where powerful tobacco industry lobbyists have little sway. Constituents are an impetus for change at the community and statewide levels.
For More Information, Please Contact:
- Shannon Quinby
- Tobacco 21
- Eastern Regional Director
- Kevin O’Flaherty
- Tobacco Free Kids
- Played a direct role in shaping NYC’s historic T21 legislation.
Director Northeastern Region