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Should NH raise its smoking age from 18 to 21?

Jan 30, 2018

BY: Citizens Count

Senator David Watters (D-Dover) is sponsoring SB 545, a 2018 bill that would increase the minimum age to buy or possess tobacco products.

The effort to raise the smoking age is being spearheaded by Dover Youth 2 Youth, a program started by the Dover Police Department that engages teenagers in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse.

“The tobacco industry is really targeting youth, so we are doing as much as we can to keep young people from smoking.”

- Hannah Martuscello, a junior at Dover High School and a member of Dover Youth 2 Youth

Last year, Maine became the fifth state to raise the retail sales age for cigarettes to 21 years old.

Currently New Hampshire, like most states, allows adults age 18 and over to purchase and smoke cigarettes.

Lowering health costs and preventing harm

Supporters of Watters’ bill point out that cigarettes are known to have a negative impact on health. It therefore makes sense to regulate them like other harmful substances, such as alcohol, which can’t be purchased until a person has reached the age of 21.

Others point out that, since most smokers pick up the habit before they reach the age of 21, raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes could actually reduce the number of people who start smoking. That can have an impact on public health costs down the road.

Personal freedom and increased revenue

Opponents of the bill argue that if 18 year-olds are considered old enough to join the military or cast a ballot, they should have the right to make a decision about whether or not to smoke a cigarette.

The move could also impact state revenues. New Hampshire gets around 10 percent of its unrestricted tax revenue—tax dollars that aren’t already earmarked for education or some other program—from the cigarette tax. If fewer people smoke, less tax will be collected and revenues will go down.

Would you support raising the smoking age in New Hampshire? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

Maureen Turgeon
- Haverhill

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 6:01pm

No, it won't make any difference. Just up the tax.

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RELATED ISSUE

Tobacco and Smoking | 1 comment(s)
Should NH pursue more policies aimed at reducing smoking?

RELATED REPRESENTATIVES

David Watters
1 Comments

Senator, NH Senate (2012 - present); Representative, NH House of Representatives (2008 - 2012); Former Chair, Strafford County Democratic Committee; Professor, University of New Hampshire (1978 - present)

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