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Poll: Granite Staters Like Smoke-Free Law, Oppose Efforts to Change It

A new poll finds the vast majority of Granite Staters support the current smoke-free law and even more don't want to see it changed. (Mike Clifford)
A new poll finds the vast majority of Granite Staters support the current smoke-free law and even more don't want to see it changed. (Mike Clifford)
January 26, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. – A new poll found strong support for the Granite State's smoke-free law, and even greater opposition to a pending measure that would repeal key elements of it.

Backers of a new bill, HB 279, said it's all about property rights; that's why they want the state to roll back the decade-old ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and grocery stores.

Mike Rollo, New Hampshire government relations director with the American Cancer Society Action Network, said the vast majority of the state's residents support the current law and strongly oppose efforts to change it.

“Eighty-four percent favor the law, but when asked, 'Are you in opposition to this bill that would repeal?' a full 88 percent said they were opposed,” Rollo said, "So, it's even higher than those who support the law as it is."

The bill's supporters argue it should be up to business owners to decide if they want to allow smoking, but Rollo said the science is clear that there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke - and that makes it a public health issue.

Support runs across party lines, Rollo said, with 76 percent of "very conservative" and 86 percent of "somewhat conservative" voters saying they support the current law. Just as important, according to Rollo, is that the poll showed there would be negative consequences for lawmakers if they succeed in repealing it.

"People like breathing, enjoy breathing fresh clean air when they go into a restaurant or bar or grocery store,” he said. "Seventy percent of the voters said they would be less likely to vote for a legislator if they backed this bill."

This is the 10th anniversary of the smoke-free law, and Rollo said Granite Staters should be celebrating rather than defending it. The repeal measure, HB 279, is pending in the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee.

The Public Opinion Strategies telephone poll has a margin of error of just over four percent.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH