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New Hampshire

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.

Recent Updates

  • 3/2019 – Newmarket becomes the fourth Tobacco 21 locality in New Hampshire (effective March 8, 2019)! There are now 4 local T21 policies representing 5.3% of the state population.

  • 12/7/2018 – Keene becomes the second Tobacco 21 locality in New Hampshire.

  • 6/27/2018 – Dover becomes first Tobacco 21 city in New Hampshire.

Show All Updates

For More Information, Please Contact:

  • Kevin O’Flaherty
  • Tobacco Free Kids
  • Played a direct role in shaping NYC’s historic T21 legislation.
    Director Northeastern Region
  • KOflaherty@Tobaccofreekids.Org

Other Helpful Resources:

Tobacco Free Kids New Hampshire

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.

American Lung Association State Report Card

The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.

SLATI State Information New Hampshire

SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.


The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation and the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids support these four principles for Tobacco 21 ordinances:

  1. Include all tobacco and nicotine products, specifically e-cigarettes. The only exceptions would be FDA recognized nicotine replacement products (gum, patch, etc.) intended for cessation.
  2. Include significant enforcement provisions against illegal sales as research shows that consistent enforcement is of critical importance.
  3. Not include any pre-emption against local authority in more stringent regulation of tobacco or other nicotine product sales, secondhand smoke, or e-cigarette vapor.
  4. Ideally not include possession, usage, or purchase (PUP) penalties that result in criminal records, and instead place the onus on the purveyors of these addictive products.

We welcome your comments and suggestions: Contact Us