Ally Warns Biden Admin that a Menthol Cigarette Ban May Spark Black Market and Deaths

( – In April 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was going to ban menthol cigarettes. The agency set a deadline of August 2023, but barreled past it. In October, the agency set the final rule, but now an ally of President Joe Biden’s administration is issuing a warning.

Reverend Al Sharpton, a long-time Democrat and ally of Biden, thinks banning menthol cigarettes is a terrible idea. The New York Post reported the reverend’s National Action Network sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf expressing concerns about the ban. The letter mentioned Eric Garner, a black man killed in 2014 by officers with the New York Police Department (NYPD). Garner was selling loose cigarettes when police approached him and put him in a headlock after a confrontation. He died after telling officers he couldn’t breathe.

Sharpton’s organization worries the menthol ban will create a black market, and that will lead to more deaths like Garner’s because there will likely be an increase in police encounters with minorities. According to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85% of black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. That’s compared to 30% of white smokers.

The reverend isn’t the only one opposing the menthol ban. Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to let him know that she has concerns about the ban. Like Sharpton, she mentioned her son’s death and said that while she understands the ban is meant to help people of color, she believes it will potentially harm black and Hispanic people.

Like Sharpton, Carr claimed that banning menthol cigarettes “could potentially trigger an increase in policing” of minority neighborhoods “for non-violent offenses” and contribute to more incarceration while undermining the trust between those communities and the police. She asked the senator and Biden administration to “review the implications of a menthol ban.”

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