Media outlets are reporting that the Biden administration is planning to announce an FDA ban on menthol cigarettes.
While this will be praised by some of the larger (and wildly corrupt) anti-smoking organizations and some members of the mainstream media (one reporter called it a “win for racial health equity”), civil liberties organizations are worried. In fact, the ACLU has written a letter to President Biden warning him that a menthol cigarette ban will lead to more policing and criminal penalties and create “serious racial justice implications.”
The ACLU is correct. Mostly African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. If this ban is enacted and menthol cigarettes are made illegal, a black market will immediately be created and these markets will largely exist in black neighborhoods, which will then be subject to more police activity. This ban will also automatically make millions of black smokers into criminals if the menthol cigarette smokers continue to seek out and smoke menthol cigarettes.
And these people will continue smoking them because they’re addicts! If menthol cigarettes aren’t available legally, most menthol smokers will turn to the black market to feed their addiction. Sadly, these smokers won’t be able to switch to far less harmful e-cigarettes because of a ban on e-cigarette flavors (including menthol) that was enacted by the Trump Administration last year.
This new ban is a huge mistake made at a time of heightened racial unrest and tension with the police. Menthol smokers—mostly black women—shouldn’t be turned into criminals because they have an unhealthy habit. And it’s cruel to give the police a new duty that will require them to poke around black neighborhoods looking for the illegal menthol cigarette dispensary.
Biden needs to stand down and leave people alone. Considering Biden’s the father of a rather well-known addict (with a tendency to forget where he left his laptop), one would expect more compassion for those addicted to cigarettes.