Biden officials indefinitely postpone ban on menthol cigarettes amid election-year pushback

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Biden administration halts menthol cigarette ban amid election-year pushback, opting for indefinite postponement

Biden Administration Delays Menthol Cigarette Ban Indefinitely

 

Biden officials indefinitely postpone ban on menthol cigarettes amid election-year pushback

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's administration has announced an indefinite delay in implementing a long-awaited ban on menthol cigarettes, a decision that has sparked frustration among anti-smoking advocates. The delay, however, is seen as a move to potentially avoid political repercussions from Black voters in the upcoming November elections.

 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated on Friday that more time is needed to consider feedback, including input from civil rights groups, before issuing the rule. He emphasized that further discussions are required before moving forward with the ban.

 

The White House has engaged in numerous discussions with various groups opposed to the ban, including civil rights organizers, law enforcement officials, and small business owners. Many of these groups have financial ties to tobacco companies.

 

The delay represents yet another setback for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which had drafted the ban with the expectation that it would save hundreds of thousands of lives over four decades. The agency has pursued the banning of menthol cigarettes across multiple administrations but has yet to finalize a rule.

 

Yolonda Richardson of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids criticized the decision, stating that it prioritizes politics over lives, particularly Black lives. Richardson highlighted that despite opposition from some groups, the ban is supported by organizations such as the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.

 

Menthol cigarettes have been a focus of regulatory efforts since the FDA gained authority to regulate certain tobacco ingredients in 2009. Although other cigarette flavors were banned under that law, menthol was not, due to lobbying efforts by industry allies in Congress. However, the FDA was instructed to continue studying the issue.

 

Approximately 80% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes, which the FDA states can mask the harshness of smoking, making it easier to start and harder to quit. Concerns have been raised about the targeted marketing of menthol products in Black communities by tobacco companies.

 

The FDA released a draft of the proposed ban in 2022, with initial plans to finalize the rule by last August. However, delays in the review process pushed the deadline to March of this year. Following the missed deadline, several anti-smoking groups filed a lawsuit to expedite the release of the ban.

 

While the FDA remains committed to banning menthol cigarettes, the delay has drawn criticism from health advocates and civil rights leaders. Despite concerns about potential illegal markets and increased confrontations with police, the FDA maintains that enforcement of the rule would target companies rather than individuals.

 

Smoking-related illnesses, including cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year in the United States, with a significant impact on Black Americans.

 


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CRN News Update - Latest Breaking News: Biden officials indefinitely postpone ban on menthol cigarettes amid election-year pushback
Biden officials indefinitely postpone ban on menthol cigarettes amid election-year pushback
Biden administration halts menthol cigarette ban amid election-year pushback, opting for indefinite postponement
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