Building America’s Future, a conservative advocacy group dedicated to ensuring America’s “continued prosperity, security, and strength,” has taken aim at the Biden administration’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, arguing it would have “harmful unintended consequences” nationwide.
“Amid one of the largest foreign policy crises of our time, rapid inflation and rising crime, the Biden Administration has made its focus a ban on menthol cigarettes and protecting heroin injection sites,” the group states on its website. “This misguided policy empowers unelected bureaucrats in place of individual consumers.”
“While the world is burning, Biden is focused on telling adults what they can and cannot do,” Building America’s Future continues. “Americans for Consumer Protection is educating and activating voters to hold the Biden Administration accountable for their action, and lack thereof, on the real issues.”
In response, the organization “is launching a six-figure ad buy across multiple 2024 swing states and congressional districts,” Fox News Digital reports.
By restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes, the ad campaign argues, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would put in jeopardy hundreds of millions of state revenue dollars nationwide.
“Overall, a Tax Foundation analysis conducted in 2022 said the restriction would cost the federal government $1.9 billion and state governments a total of $4.7 billion, given the high tax rates on cigarettes,” according to Fox News Digital.
In an October report, Cato Institute senior fellow Jeffrey Singer argued the proposed ban would lead to a surge in “black market” sales.
“Sadly, it appears the menthol‐ban train has already left the station,” Singer wrote. “This means more business opportunities for purveyors of black market products — ranging from illicit drugs to cigars and cigarettes. And if history teaches us anything, we can expect to witness many harmful unintended consequences.”
In comments made to the FDA months earlier, Singer argued that Blacks and Hispanics would be disproportionately impacted by the fallout.
— BPR (@BIZPACReview) April 30, 2021
“Prohibition fuels an underground market where peaceful, voluntary transactions become crimes. It gives law enforcement another reason to interact with non‐violent people who commit these victimless crimes,” he explained. “With menthol cigarettes more popular among Blacks and Hispanics, expect police to focus their attention on minority communities.”
“New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire’s 5th congressional district, Colorado’s 8th congressional district, Pennslyvania’s 7th and 8th congressional districts, Ohio’s 13th congressional district and Connecticut’s 5th congressional district” would be specific targets of the ad buy, according to Fox News Digital.
Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio — all swing states — would face revenue hits of an estimated $123 million, $219 million, $165 million and $227 million, respectively, last year’s Tax Foundation analysis revealed.
The FDA previously banned “flavors” in cigarettes and cigars, and, in April 2022, citing concerns for youths, it moved “to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco) in cigars.”
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra at the time. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”
The proposed regulations were sent last month to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, “a final step in finalizing and eventually implementing the menthol cigarette ban,” according to Fox News Digital.
“Once finalized, rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars rule will be the most significant actions that the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products has taken in its 14-year history,” said American Lung Association CEO and President Harold Wimmer last month. “The American Lung Association is eager for these lifesaving rules to be implemented and urges the White House to finalize these rules before the end of the year.”
“The science and data are clear. Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will save lives,” Wimmer stated. “It will also help reduce the unjust disparities in tobacco use caused by the tobacco companies targeting certain communities with menthol cigarettes.”
But, according to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the proposed regulations are yet another reason for Americans to distrust the Biden administration.
“This administration would make criminals of law-abiding citizens while granting actual felons early release and encouraging illicit drug use,” he told Fox News Digital in July. “No wonder Americans have lost faith in an administration that’s less interested in public safety than targeting political enemies.”
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