Biden Delays Menthol Cigarette Ban Due To Criticism From Black Community

The Biden administration’s plan to ban menthol cigarettes has hit a roadblock as outspoken opponents within the Black community raise concerns about potential unintended consequences. Leaders argue that the proposed ban could lead to an expansion of the illicit cigarette market in the community and increase instances of racial profiling of Black individuals.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had previously estimated that in 2018 there were approximately 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers aged 12 and up in the U.S. with particularly high rates of use among youth young adults African Americans and other racial and ethnic groups. The agency had set a deadline of March 2024 for the administration to take action against menthol cigarettes following a study of the issue in October 2023.

However, the Biden administration has now announced an indefinite delay in its efforts to implement the ban. In a statement explaining the decision U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra cited the “historic attention” the rule has garnered during the public comment period particularly from “various elements of the civil rights and criminal justice movement.”

The delay has raised questions about the administration’s motives with some speculating that it may be related to concerns over President Joe Biden’s decreasing popularity among Black voters. A national Republican strategist told the Daily Caller “Black voters overwhelmingly backed Joe Biden in 2020 but polls show they aren’t nearly as excited to back him in 2024.”

Despite the potential political implications, data from the CDC shows that smoking cigarettes remains the biggest preventable cause of death for Americans with nearly half a million people dying from illnesses related to smoking and over 41,000 dying from issues related to second-hand smoke each year.