Biden gets lit up over proposed menthol cigarette ban

The latest nanny-state measure from the White House on cigarettes hit from all sides as insiders anticipate “targeted campaign ads” heading into 2024.

Backed by President Joe Biden, in April 2022 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a ban on flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes with the intent to “prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers” and “help adult smokers quit.” Now, as the standards neared the end of their regulatory review, critics warned about the “unintended consequences” the likely doomed-to-fail ban would have on society and politically.

Noting measures taken by the administration toward easing restrictions on marijuana and reports on the distribution of paraphernalia for heroin users, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R) former campaign manager told Fox News Digital, “Criminalizing cigarettes as the Biden administration promotes heroin injection sites is bad policy and bad politics”

“Expect to see targeted campaign ads aimed at shop owners, law enforcement and those impacted by the pending ban,” he added.

Cotton himself had previously told the outlet, “This administration would make criminals of law-abiding citizens while granting actual felons early release and encouraging illicit drug use. No wonder Americans have lost faith in an administration that’s less interested in public safety than targeting political enemies.”

According to Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, “Finalizing these two product standards remains a top priority for the FDA.”

The director explained to Fox News Digital, “The posting of both rules on the [White House’s Office of Management and Budget] website means they have reached the final step of review for regulatory documents.”

“I don’t smoke–and even if I did, I doubt I’d be a menthol guy–but this is absurd. In any event, changes to federal law should be made by Congress–not unelected bureaucrats,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) said on X as he pushed legislation to add scrutiny to Washington, D.C.’s bloated bureaucracy. “Congress must pass the REINS Act to return the lawmaking power to the people.”

Image via X

From the regulatory side, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids president and CEO Yolanda Richardson had told The Hill “These rules represent truly historic action to drive down tobacco use. Once implemented, they will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save hundreds of thousands of lives, especially Black Lives.”

However, among those blasting the proposal, Rev. Al Sharpton had told Politico in April the regulation would likely only criminalize behavior that would not stop, “What we said is, ‘Y’all have got to consider unintended consequences.’ Imagine some cop pulling a kid over saying, ‘Where did you buy or get that Kool cigarette?’ People are not going to stop smoking Newports and Kools because of a rule. They’re going to go and get them from people that go to the street in the black market. Then what happens? That’s all I’m asking.”

The FDA estimated that 85 percent of black smokers use menthol cigarettes compared to only 30 percent of white smokers. Similar figures were presented by Jeffrey Singer, senior fellow at the CATO Institute, who referenced initial comments after the April 2022 proposal as he wrote, “In my comments, I stated that, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2020, 81 percent of Black and 51 percent of Hispanic smokers preferred menthol-flavored cigarettes. While the proposed rule is intended to reduce tobacco-related health outcome disparities in Black and Brown communities, a closer look at the data on menthol cigarettes, as well as the European Union’s experience with a menthol ban, suggest that the proposed product standard will not work, and will likely foster a black market. Perhaps even worse, the ban might further aggravate criminal justice inequities.”

Already, a ban on menthol cigarettes in Massachusetts had presented an uptick in contraband according to The New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association which opposed the ban and posted on their website, “A recent report by the Massachusetts Illegal Tobacco Task Force found that contraband cigarette seizures skyrocketed from just 5,377 in 2021 to 18,483 in 2022.”

With the border crisis worsening, the implications were clear that cartels would stand to benefit from smuggling more illicit products into the country.

Reacting to the proposal, social media users slammed the priorities of the Biden administration with one contending, “Calling him a buffoon is an insult to buffoons.”


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