Americans for Tax Reform today condemned the decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin the process of banning menthol cigarettes. The proposal is also opposed by over two dozen of the leading civil right groups in the United States, including the American Council on Civil Liberties (ACLU), the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, as well as the Rev. Al Sharpton.

At a time the nation is rightly focusing on over-policing of minority communities and criminal justice reform, it beggars belief the Biden Administration wants to criminalize a product used by 12 million Americans, predominantly from minority populations” said Tim Andrews, Director of Consumer Issues at Americans for Tax Reform. “The evidence clearly demonstrates that introducing prohibition will do nothing to reduce smoking rates, but will expose minorities to further over-policing”.

Mr. Andrews also noted the evidence from other jurisdictions where menthol bans were imposed stating that “While the majority of menthol smokers will switch to non-menthol tobacco, over 20% will continue to purchase on the black market, not only exposing them to persecution, but funding sophisticated international criminal syndicates. According to the US Department of State, illicit tobacco’s links to funding terrorist organizations is already a serious threat to national security, and this would just make the problem even worse, while also depriving state governments of excise revenue putting state government programs at risk.

Mr. Andrews concluded: “If the FDA were serious about smoking rates, they should follow the science – and not radical activists. The science is overwhelmingly clear that the best way to reduce smoking rates is by embracing reduced risk non-combustible nicotine delivery systems proven 95% safer than smoking, between two and five times more effective than any other quit smoking technique, and according to Georgetown University Medical Center, which have the potential to save 6.6 million lives. These technologies, ranging from vapor to other tobacco products, some of which the FDA already authorized to be marketed as reducing cancer risk for people who switch,  to “heat not burn” devices, have already led to the sharpest decline in smoking rates in history. Rather than reintroducing the failed polices of the past like prohibition and put some of the most vulnerable in our society at even more risk, the FDA must follow the science and embrace these life-saving technologies.”