What Happened This Year
“It’s going to be a hot summer in the State House!” said ACS CAN NH’s Government Relations Director, Mike Rollo.
Why? Well, that’s because the Governor vetoed the budget last month. Here’s the inside scoop on what Governor Chris Sununu’s veto means for the fight against cancer in New Hampshire.
In January, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to help reduce youth tobacco use in the state.
Senate Bill 248, introduced by Senator David Watters, would have increased the sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21.
House Bill 680, introduced by Representative Joelle Martin, would have added “e-cigarette” to the definition of a tobacco product.
Why might these measures make a difference in the fight against cancer? National data show that about 95% of adult smokers begin before they turn 21, before their brains are fully developed. Furthermore, New Hampshire has one of the highest youth e-cigarette rates in the country at 23.8%. Many of these e-cigarette devices deliver nicotine more effectively and at higher doses than cigarettes, increasing users’ risk of addiction. Since the FDA has just begun to regulate e-cigarettes, there is insufficient research on their long-term effects, but we do know that they are not harmless. Delaying the age when young people first experiment with or begin using tobacco can reduce the risk that they will become addicted smokers. By adding “e-cigarette” to the definition of a tobacco product, the State of New Hampshire would have oversight of e-cigarette shops and would be able to penalize stores that sold their products to minors.
However, in March, both bills were quietly killed in committee.
As a last-ditch effort to get these bills passed this year and protect the youth of New Hampshire from the health risks of tobacco use, Mike pushed to have both policies put into the state budget. Each budget year, a “trailer bill” is added on to the state budget proposal which can include changes to statutory law. Mike was successful in having both policies included in the budget! We were so excited to see it finally happen!
But then the Governor vetoed the budget.
So now, the House and Senate have passed a continuing resolution to fund the state government until October and lawmakers will be working over the summer to write a budget that the Governor will pass. We’ll keep you updated with any news about T21 or the definition of a tobacco product.
In the meantime, we can celebrate the 106 T21 petitions we’ve collected so far, the 79 emails that have been sent to lawmakers, and the numerous conversations we’ve had with Granite Staters who are passionate about ending the burden of cancer in NH.
Did we mention that the State House isn’t air conditioned? Sorry, Mike!