Biden Administration Delays Decision on Menthol Cigarette Ban

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    The Biden administration announced on Friday yet another delay in a decision regarding a regulation aimed at banning menthol-flavored cigarettes

    The Biden administration announced on Friday yet another delay in a decision regarding a regulation aimed at banning menthol-flavored cigarettes, citing extensive feedback and attention surrounding the controversial proposal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated, “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.”

    One senior administration official highlighted the challenges in reaching a consensus, stating, “It was hard to put a timeline on the delay, citing lingering disagreements after months of hard conversations.”

    The administration seeks additional time to gather input from external stakeholders, particularly from the civil rights perspective. Acknowledging the disproportionately high rates of Black Americans affected by menthol cigarette usage, which prompted the FDA’s initial push for a ban, concerns have been raised about the potential enforcement of such a rule.

    Among the vocal opponents of the menthol cigarette ban is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has been lobbying against it for months. The ACLU warns that such a ban would “disproportionately impact people of color” and “prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction.”

    “The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) applauds and strongly supports the decision of the Biden-Harris Administration to continue to take the necessary time to hear directly from a wide range of African American leaders, as well as from an array of leaders from other communities of color across the United States, on the proposed FDA ban on menthol cigarettes,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., NNPA president and CEO. “The NNPA joins with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers (NOBLE), the National Action Network (NAN), and the Mothers of the Movement Against Police Brutality in our public opposition to the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes. This a matter of racial profiling and the unintended consequences of proposed rules that will have a negative impact on the communities in which we serve. Thank you President Biden for your continued leadership.”

    The White House has engaged in over 100 meetings regarding the proposal with numerous outside groups both for and against the regulation, ranging from convenience store associations to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

    Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, who tragically died nearly a decade ago due to a police altercation over the sale of loose cigarettes, expressed relief at the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to delay the menthol ban. Carr has consistently voiced concerns about potential unintended consequences of the rule, emphasizing the need for clear guidelines to prevent further harm in Black communities.

    In a statement, Carr said, “I worked diligently trying to avoid the menthol ban because it was personal to me. My son, Eric Garner, died as a result of police crackdowns on the sale of loose cigarettes. I realized this ban would only create more unintended law enforcement consequences like the very ones that led to my son’s death. It’s why I organized other mothers who have lost children to police violence, NAN, Attorney Ben Crump, and others to ensure there were clear guidelines to safeguard against our concerns. We commend the Biden Administration for hearing those concerns and taking them seriously. The fight for our freedom of choice and our civil liberties must carry on.”

    Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, also welcomed the decision, stating on X (formerly Twitter), “I am pleased that the Biden Administration understands the civil rights harm that could result from a menthol ban in the Black Community. I look forward to working with the Biden administration toward effective prevention solutions as it relates to smoking in our great country.”

    The delay underscores the complexities and sensitivities surrounding the issue, as the administration seeks to balance public health objectives with civil liberties and racial equity concerns.

    The post Biden Administration Delays Decision on Menthol Cigarette Ban first appeared on BlackPressUSA.