Biden Administration Drops Planned Ban on Menthol Cigarettes Over Fear of Angering Minority Voters

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AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

As RedState has reported in numerous articles (see “RELATED” at the bottom), the Biden administration has been wrestling mightily with whether or not to ban menthol cigarettes since 2021. 

As has been the case with most, if not all, of Joe Biden’s decisions, a proposed ban on menthols has been less about the potential public health benefits of banning mint-flavored cigarettes and more about the potential fallout in both the Black and Hispanic communities. 

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 81 percent of Black smokers smoked menthols in 2020, along with 51 percent of Hispanic smokers, compared to just 30 percent of white smokers.

In other words, it’s all about the votes.

Hence, as the Journal reported, the administration was expected to announce on Friday that it is delaying a decision on whether to impose a ban, contending that it needs more time to consult with outside groups on the matter — with no set timeline to revisit the decision, as the November presidential election looms closer and closer.

I got a chuckle out of the “needs more time to consult with outside groups on the matter” nonsense. Really? The most inept, politically-driven administration in modern history has been “consulting with outside groups” on whether or not to ban menthol cigarettes since Biden entered the White House.

The reality is that the only “outside groups” Biden and his administration are concerned about are political surveys and focus groups and the potential alienation of minority voters in November if the embattled president pulls the trigger on menthols.

Here’s more:

The Biden administration in 2021 began pursuing a ban on menthol cigarettes, saying the policy move would reduce youth initiation, increase the success rate for smokers trying to quit and address health disparities among people of color. The plan was part of the administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to reduce the death rate from cancer. 
The Food and Drug Administration had been expected to adopt a new rule banning menthols last year, but the plan was delayed as the White House mulled its political repercussions. 
Some Black community leaders had fought the measure, saying a ban would expand the illicit market for cigarettes and lead police to racially profile Black smokers. The American Civil Liberties Union and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus expressed similar concerns.

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that a ban on menthols would, in fact, reduce the number of young people picking up smoking, increase the success rate of smokers trying to quit, and address health disparities among people of color. If so, should “all of the above” be kicked to the curb over the administration’s fear of Joe losing votes in November? 

Meanwhile, a Canadian study projected the results of a U.S. ban on on menthols, per the Journal:

A study from the University of Waterloo in Canada, which evaluated bans on menthol cigarettes in Canada and the European Union, projected that a U.S. ban on menthol cigarettes would prompt 1.3 million smokers to quit, including more than 380,000 Black smokers, in the first four to 23 months after the ban went into effect.

It’s also worth noting that California and Massachusetts have implemented their own bans on menthols, along with more than 100 municipalities across the country.

And of course this leads us back to Joe Biden and his equally inept administration.

The Bottom Line

I don’t smoke. Consequently, I don’t have a dog in the fight, one way or another. But here’s the thing: 

“Nanny state” or “government overreach” arguments — which are valid — against a ban on menthol cigarettes aside, a federal government decision to ban or not ban any product on the basis of public health concerns should be made on health merits, alone, not on the potential number of votes it might cost an embattled president, whose handlers wet their fingers and stick them in the air to determine which way the political wind is blowing.


RELATED:

So, It’s Not About Health: Biden Delays Menthol Cig Ban Fearing Black Backlash

Make Smoking Great Again

Biden’s Plan to Ban Menthol Cigarettes Is Nanny State Nonsense

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