New Hampshire Lawmaker Sponsors Bill to Overturn Smoking Bans

The measure would let privately operated retailers decide on whether to allow smoking on their premises.

January 13, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. – A New Hampshire state representative has introduced a bill that would let privately operated establishments like supermarkets and restaurants decide whether to allow patrons to light up indoors, WMUR-TV reports. A decade ago, the state approved a smoking ban that prohibited smoking indoors at any business.

Rep. Robert Hull said a voter requested HB 279, which he drafted. The bill has been referred to a subcommittee, but there’s no news on when they would vote on it. 

“It's a property-rights issue,” Hull said. “Should the state be deciding what people do inside of private establishments? They are public places, but they are owned by private people, and the owner of the property should decide what's going on.”

Already, opponents of the bill have come out in force, including the American Cancer Society. “There are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, and people that work in restaurants and bars, people that are patrons of those establishments deserve to be protected from the harms of secondhand smoke,” said Michael Rollo with the American Cancer Society.

New Hampshire residents are divided on the issue. “I think bars should be able to choose if they allow it or not. Restaurants, I'm a little more hesitant on because it's more of an eating environment instead of a drinking environment,” said Sarah Gallant of Manchester.

“To go back to the days where you go into a restaurant and if you're a non-smoker, you're exposed to secondhand smoke doesn't appeal to me,” added Ed Gallagher of Manchester.