The Biden administration wants to ban menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars. The latter means no more blunts. They claim this will “save lives.” They’ve compiled data and models to confidently say nearly one million smokers will quit because of this. Of course, anyone paying attention to the COVID models has every right to be skeptical of this claim.
Of the nearly one million Americans expected to quit within the first year of the ban, a quarter of them are black. Democrats in Congress support the ban, arguing they have a “duty” to ban menthols to protect children. (Won’t somebody please think of the children?)
But like everything the government does – there are unintended consequences.
It is a habit of politicians to always look at the effects on one group in the short-run, rather than all groups in the long run. An estimated 20 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, according to the FDA. Is the Biden administration okay sending these Americans to the underground market?
It wasn’t so long ago a black man was choked to death for selling contraband cigarettes. So I have to ask – what is Joe Biden smoking? Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has become a mere shadow of its former self, expressed concern about the ban. They fear criminal penalties would “disproportionately impact people of color.”
The FDA disagrees. Claims it won’t affect individual users. The ban will “only address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers,” the FDA statement said. But how does that make sense?
This is a statement only a bureaucrat could say with a straight face.
If Americans are barred from creating menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars, then how is this not going to affect the individual consumer? How can they consume something that is illegal to produce?
Black adults smoke menthol cigarettes more than any other ethnic group, according to the CDC. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says, “We want to save lives in the Black community… get menthol out of cigarettes if you want to help people, let their kids become the professionals and the successes for this country and leaders of America, get them the care they need.”
Yes, because the only thing holding back black Americans is the menthol in their cigarettes.
An outside observer without any pretense of knowledge may look in at this ban and scratch their head. If menthols are purchased by mostly black people, and the Biden administration wants to ban these cigarettes, wouldn’t that make this law a bit racist? It specifically targets the black community. Cloaked in the language of public health and safety, the ban claims to help. Like offering a lifeboat to a drowning man. A lifeboat filled with venomous snakes.
A ban on flavoured cigars essentially means no more blunt wraps. Or, at least, an underground market in blunts wraps. Many observers, myself included, fail to see how sending the black community to the illicit market is going to help them.
Granted, the Biden administration has pledged to pursue cannabis decriminalization.
But what does that exactly mean? How will it look? All this remains up the air. Same with Biden’s commitment to seek expungements for people with cannabis convictions. Somebody better tell his vice-president Kamala Harris. She locked up thousands in California for nonviolent cannabis crimes. These ex-cons might be a little ticked off when they find out the laws have changed and the person who put them in the slammer is now the vice-president of the United States.
(Keep in mind, the trajectory toward legalization is out of Biden’s hands. States have long been defying federal cannabis laws and, in 2018, to little media fanfare, Donald Trump legalized all cannabis compounds except for Delta-9 THC).
Until then, whether it’s menthol cigarettes, flavoured cigars, or the continued criminalization of cannabis at the federal level – you can trust the Biden administration to say one thing and do another. It is evident to anyone with a basic grasp of logic. Illicit markets for menthol cigarettes will be run by the “people of color” in the communities the ban is supposed to protect.
Biden is a career politician.
He is the author of the 1994 crime bill responsible for America’s mass incarceration of black Americans. His vice-president was a prosecutor who helped enforce it. You can argue all day whether they are truly the lesser evil. But a lesser evil is still an evil. While seemingly a minute issue compared to larger ones like war and debt, the ban on menthols and flavoured cigars shows that nothing has changed.