NH Senate Democrats Denounce Finance Committee Vote on Smoking Ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Molly Cowan

Phone: 603 271-3077

Fax: 603 271-3027

Email: molly.cowan@leg.state.nh.us

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire Senate Democrats denounced the Senate Finance Committee vote today that recommends killing a bill (HB 1177) to prohibit smoking in restaurants and cocktail lounges.

After over three hours of public testimony yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee voted 3-3 in favor of killing the legislation. Over 70 people turned out at the public hearing in favor of the legislation, while 18 people appeared in opposition to the smoking ban.

“We are disappointed in the Senate Finance vote,” commented Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, Senate Democratic Deputy Leader. “We hold public hearings on pending legislation in the Senate to encourage input from New Hampshire citizens. We should then vote on legislation based on the facts presented to us in the public hearings, and not go into hearings with our minds made up. The public has spoken overwhelmingly in favor of the smoking ban, and the New Hampshire Senate Democrats will bring this fight to the Senate floor.”

Co-sponsor of HB 1177 Senator David Gottesman, D-District 12, testified in favor of the legislation at the public hearing.

“We have a duty to protect the public’s health and to protect New Hampshire workers from deadly second hand smoke,” noted Sen. Gottesman. “This is not an economic issue. This is not a referendum on our great state motto “Live Free or Die.” This is simply a health issue, and a matter of doing what is right for our great state.”

“This is an important issue of health in the workplace as well as public health protection.  One out of three cancers is related to smoking, and second hand smoke is a known hazard,” noted Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen. “We heard heartbreaking testimony from New Hampshire residents on the effects of second hand smoking. This bill is clearly about protecting New Hampshire workers who, for economic reasons, have no other option than to work in a smoky restaurant or bar. This bill needs to become law to protect the lives of New Hampshire workers and children.”

HB 1177 will be voted on by the full Senate on April 6, and was sponsored by Rep. S. Francoeur, Rep. MacKay, Rep. Infantine, Rep. Dokmo, Rep. Norelli, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hassan, Sen. Fuller Clark, Sen. Odell, and Sen. Gottesman.