July 15, 2018

When I ran for the Senate I promised to protect your Liberty and Freedoms, as well as my own. I promised to bring forward legislation that will keep the arm of BIG government from intruding into your life where it really is not necessary. Because of the legislation I brought forward this past year in order to achieve this goal, I was presented with this "Outstanding Senator of the Year" award in recognition of my efforts by the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.


- Senator Harold French — Franklin, New Hampshire.

                                                     DISTRICT 7

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE DEBATES RAISING TOBACCO AGE TO 21 

CONCORD MONITOR  NOVEMBER 21, 2019

NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE DEBATES RAISING TOBACCO AGE TO 21

By ETHAN DeWITT

Monitor staff

  

              A proposal to raise New Hampshire’s tobacco minimum age to 21 – two months after it jumped to 19 – is moving forward on partisan lines. In a divided, 3-2 vote, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee recommended the passage of legislation to make buying and possessing tobacco products illegal under 21, seeking to add New Hampshire to a recent wave of states that have done the same. The bill, Senate Bill 248, would also require schools to develop policies specifying violations for those who pass on tobacco products to people age 20 and under.

                Advocates of the national campaign, driven by an organization called Tobacco 21, say it would cut down on a growing surge of youth use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, and keep tobacco products available to young adults. Vaping use in high schools has skyrocketed; New Hampshire has the highest youth vaping use in the country, with 40% of students trying it at least once and 4% vaping at least every day, according to a recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research on the long term effects of the activity is still unclear, but a spate of vaping illnesses apparently related to cannabis vaping products has led to more than 40 deaths this year. Citing that recent surge, Senate President Donna Soucy, a Manchester Democrat, said a statewide age hike is necessary in New Hampshire. “I really think this is the right time to enact this legislation, and I think it’s important that we do it,” Soucy said.

             But Republicans said the leap would impede on young people’s freedom, especially after the state already raised the age from 18 to 19 in the compromise budget, which will kick in this Jan. 1. New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, also opposes an increase to 21.  


“I don’t believe that this issue is actually an issue about tobacco, cigarettes, use of nicotine,” 

said Sen. Harold French, a Franklin Republican on the Commerce Committee. 

“I believe it’s the rights of our young adults to make decisions that’s at stake here.”

 To French, the prohibition on health concerns would be at odds with the other liberties offered to 19-year-olds.  

“Whether they choose to smoke or take nicotine, these are the same people we give the right to vote to, 

the right to sign away their life to go war for us,” he said. 

“They have the right to marry, among many other legal responsibilities they can take on. 

And we’re telling them that they don’t have the capability of deciding whether they’re going to use nicotine or not.


             French joined with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, in voting against recommending the bill . . . .