Biden’s New Ban Alienates Black Americans

Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash

( – The Biden administration is on the verge of implementing new regulations that will prohibit menthol cigarettes, a decision that has sparked significant controversy. This move, initially proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) two years ago, aims to address public health concerns but has encountered strong resistance from various groups, including small businesses, civil rights advocates, law enforcement, and proponents of the free market.

Despite the pushback, the administration is moving forward with the ban, which has been delayed several times, with the latest missed deadline occurring just recently. The FDA has confirmed its dedication to enacting these tobacco product standards, which are now undergoing the final review phase by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), signaling the last step in the regulatory process.

Amidst these developments, there is growing impatience among those advocating for the ban, who view it as crucial for advancing public health objectives, notably those outlined in President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative. However, the delay, which has extended for over seven months, has been met with criticism from health organizations, accusing the administration of yielding to tobacco industry pressures.

On the other side of the debate, opponents of the ban, including entities representing convenience stores, law enforcement, consumers, and minority groups, argue that such a prohibition could lead to unintended negative consequences, such as the creation of a black market and adverse effects on small businesses and minority communities, who are major consumers of menthol cigarettes.

Meetings between the White House, FDA, and various stakeholders, both in favor of and against the ban, have been frequent, indicating a thorough examination of the issue from multiple perspectives. Critics of the ban, such as the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the U.S. Hispanic Business Council (USHBC), have highlighted potential economic impacts, suggesting that the ban could significantly reduce sales and affect the livelihoods of many workers in the convenience store sector.

Furthermore, opponents argue that the ban may disproportionately target minority communities, leading to increased police interactions and potential civil liberties concerns. Advocacy groups and civil rights leaders have actively engaged with government officials to express their concerns and seek a balanced approach to the issue.

The FDA’s proposal to ban menthol in cigarettes and certain flavors in cigars is grounded in public health objectives, aiming to decrease tobacco-related diseases and deaths by curbing youth initiation and promoting cessation among current smokers. However, the debate continues, highlighting the complex interplay between public health goals, economic interests, and civil rights considerations in the development and implementation of tobacco control policies.

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