smoking cigarette
© WMUR 9
Lawmakers in Concord are considering a bill that would roll back smoking rules across the state.

If passed, the legislation would let business owners decide whether people can smoke indoors. Ten years ago, it became illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants.

The legislation would apply to privately run grocery stores, restaurants, and cocktail lounges, along with transportation, such as taxis, buses and boats.

The sponsor of House Bill 279, Rep. Robert Hull, R-Grafton, said he drafted it at the request of a voter.

"It's a property-rights issue," Hull said. "Should the state be deciding what people do inside of private establishments? They are public places, but they are owned by private people, and the owner of the property should decide what's going on."

The bill was met with strong opposition Wednesday by the American Cancer Society, which argued that it would create a major health risk for Granite Staters.

"There are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, and people that work in restaurants and bars, people that are patrons of those establishments deserve to be protected from the harms of secondhand smoke," said Michael Rollo of the American Cancer Society.

Granite Staters had varying opinions on whether smoking laws should be rolled back.

"I think bars should be able to choose if they allow it or not. Restaurants, I'm a little more hesitant on because it's more of an eating environment instead of a drinking environment," said Sarah Gallant, of Manchester.

"Not for me, and it will make people go other places. So it might change the atmosphere of the bar," said Molly Selvidio, of Manchester.

"To go back to the days where you go into a restaurant and if you're a non-smoker, you're exposed to second-hand smoke doesn't appeal to me," said Ed Gallagher, of Manchester.

"It's really up to the owner of the bar. If they want to be known as a smoking bar, then they can do that. It's up to them in my opinion," said Nick Veita, of Manchester.

The proposal will be referred to a subcommittee, and it's unclear when it could be put to a vote.