New Hampshire Rep. Robert Hill, a Republican from Grafton, has announced a new bill that proposes to overturn the state’s decade-old smoking ban.
Rep. Hill’s proposed House Bill 279 (HB279) would repeal much of the state’s law that prohibits smoking in most privately owned public places, such as grocery stores, restaurants and taxis.
However, other public places like schools and government buildings would remain off limits.
Introducing the controversial bill, the Republican representative called the current ban on smoking a “pet peeve” because N.H. claims to be a “Live Free or Die” state. He also claimed that the bill would turn N.H. into a smoking tourist destination.
Seeking support for the bill, he said, “It’s always been my pet peeve that we are in the Live Free and Die state and we are not allowed to light up in a restaurant. If his bill passes, we would be an oasis of freedom surrounded by a desert of prohibition.”
However, the several health groups, including the American Cancer Society, have criticized the proposed bill. Mike Rollo, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society, argued that there is no safe level to expose people to secondhand smoke.
Smoking has been linked to thousands of deaths occurring in the U.S. annually. In N.H. alone, nearly 8,670 people were diagnosed with the deadly disease of cancer resulting from smoking last year.