Joe Biden Presses Pause On Menthol Cigarette Ban, NAACP Swiftly Condemns White House

Joe Biden Presses Pause On Menthol Cigarette Ban, NAACP Swiftly Condemns White House


Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-lighted-cigarette-stick-70088/

The Biden administration has revealed a delay in the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, sparking both criticism and support from various sectors. According to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra there needs to be further discussions and engagement with stakeholders before the White House makes a definitive decision. But this doesn’t sit well with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who stresses the need for a ban is a matter of life or death for Black smokers.

Historically, menthol cigarettes, which have been found to be more addictive, have been advertised mainly to the Black community.

“This rule has garnered historic attention and the public comment period has yielded an immense amount of feedback, including from various elements of the civil rights and criminal justice movement,” Becerra said, CNN reported. “It’s clear that there are still more conversations to have, and that will take significantly more time.”

Originally proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2022, the ban on menthol cigarettes aimed to address public health concerns and disparities linked to tobacco use, particularly within minority communities. However, the process faced obstacles, including legal challenges and regulatory hurdles, leading to the current delay in implementation.

Proponents argued that menthol cigarettes have been disproportionately marketed to minority groups, contributing to health disparities and exacerbating the impact of smoking-related illnesses. They emphasized the potential life-saving benefits of such a ban, citing estimates that it could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths, particularly among Black Americans.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, implementing a menthol ban has the potential to save approximately 650,000 lives over the next four decades, with one-third of these lives being within the Black community.

In a statement, Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said: “In an election year, politicians should be prioritizing people, not profiteers. Today’s news from the Biden Administration is a blow to the Black community, who continue to be unfairly targeted and unjustly killed by Big Tobacco. Let’s be clear – valuing Black lives should not be used as a pawn to get our people to the polls, but rather a platform that our leaders refuse to step down from. 

“It is dehumanizing when our leaders continue to make decisions that bend to a calculus rooted in political projections, reeking of the influence of an industry that has far too often peddled misinformation and disinformation at the cost of Black life and wellbeing. Bowing to Big Tobacco and its lobby is never in the best interest of the people. And unequivocally is not in the pursuit of health equity or racial justice.”

He continued, “The NAACP is outraged and disgusted, but we refuse to be deterred. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect and advance Black life. This is what standing for community looks like.”

Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton has voiced his opposition to a ban on menthol cigarettes, warning that such a move could lead to unintended consequences. In a letter addressed to the FDA, Sharpton’s National Action Network pointed to the case of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after being put in an illegal chokehold by a police officer during an arrest related to the sale of untaxed cigarettes. Sharpton argues that banning menthol cigarettes could potentially result in similar deadly clashes and foster an illicit market for these products. But some question Sharpton’s sincerity as NAN has reportedly received financial support from cigarette giant R.J. Reynolds, whose products include the popular Newport brand, which has a menthol version.

Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-lighted-cigarette-stick-70088/