The Biden administration’s anticipated ban on menthol cigarettes is igniting fierce backlash from critics concerned about the racial implications of the action.
The facts: The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce this week a proposal to ban menthol and other flavors from mass produced tobacco products, The Washington Post reported.
- The proposal comes amid pressure from civil rights group and activists, who blame predatory tobacco industry marketing practices for the popularity of menthol-flavored cigarettes in the black community, which is disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of smoking.
- According to the Truth Initiative, an anti-tobacco non-profit, “nearly 90% of all African American smokers use menthol cigarettes.”
- Full implementation of the ban would not take place for years, experts say.
The backlash: But while some racial justice advocates, including Black Lives Matter, support anticipated ban, others view it as patronizing and racist.
- In a letter to Xavier Becerra, the Health and Human Services secretary, the ACLU argued the ban would have “serious racial justice implications.”
- Michelle Minton, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, tweeted that while she didn’t “doubt that those who support a menthol ban have good intentions,” such a ban was “still inherently racist.”
- In a piece for Reason Magazine, writer Jacob Grier argued that a ban on menthol cigarettes would lead to more confrontations between police and black Americans.