Biden Administration Reportedly Planning To Ban Menthol Cigarettes

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Font Size:

President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to announce a ban on menthol cigarettes, numerous sources reported.

The proposed ban, eagerly advocated for by anti-smoking groups, is likely to be unveiled Thursday, two people familiar with plan said according to CBS News.

There are nearly 20 million smokers of menthol cigarettes in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) most recent data. Data has shown that menthol and other flavored tobacco products disproportionately target minorities and children, according to the Washington Post.

While there has been no federal action, menthol cigarettes have been banned in a number of states, including California and Massachusetts. The past few years saw an uptick in similar proposals at the state level, with lawmakers in New York and New Jersey pushing for the menthol ban.

“85.8 percent of African American smokers, 46 percent of Hispanic smokers” and “more than half of smokers ages 12-17” smoke menthol cigarettes, according to FDA. (RELATED: FDA Considering Menthol Cigarette Ban After Plan To Crack Down On E-Cigs Revealed)

The producers have previously deflected accusations of targeting the vulnerable groups. Kaelan Hollon, a spokesperson for Reynolds American, maker of Newport, the most popular menthol cigarettes, said the company’s objective is “to reach a wide and diverse audience of adult smokers, regardless of their ethnicity or gender, with the intention of persuading smokers to choose one of our brands rather than a brand of one of our competitors,” according to Washington Post.

“The science does not support regulating menthol cigarettes differently than non-menthol cigarettes, and the many issues implicated by a menthol cigarette ban — science, illicit trade and unintended consequences — are important and merit careful thought,” she reportedly added in the statement.

The Biden administration’s plan has also been criticized by a number of groups, such as The Black Police Experience, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Black Justice Coalition and others.

The civil liberties groups claimed that the “prohibition for adults will have serious racial justice implications,” according to the letter sent Monday to FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock.