Banning menthol cigarettes

Reports are that the Biden administration is about to do this, but this has been on the table for several years. Question is how this plays out in terms of current Equal Rights laws and viewpoints.

Key point is that for whatever reasons, African American smokers overwhelmingly favor methol cigarettes, while it’s only favored by a minority of other ethnic groups. So a ban would have a disproportionate impact on African-Americans. Key question is whether it’s a beneficial impact or a harmful one. You could look at it either way.

On the one hand, it’s pretty widely accepted - and would be accepted from a legal standpoint - that cigarette smoking is harmful, so banning a cigarette smoked by AAs would possibly help reduce the harmful effects of smoking in that community (unless they all switch to other flavors) which would make it a benefit.

On the other hand, everyone currently has the right to make their own individual decision as to the risk/rewards of smoking, and a disproportionate percentage of African Americans would be having their particular lifestyle choice overridden by the feds.

I don’t know what the law currently is as to situations of this sort, but I tend to think if it’s deliberately targeting the African American community, that it should be illegal. (FWIW, ISTM that most AA leaders are in favor of the move, but there are some dissenters as well.)

I agree that it’s wrong. Menthol are just as harmful as non-menthol. Singling out one ethnic group is absurd. Raise the taxes on all cigarettes. They cost over $25/pack in Australia.

Cigarettes with artificial flavours added have been banned for a while, maybe not everywhere in the US but definitely in the EU, Canada, etc.

I’m not sure about pipe tobacco or hookah tobacco.

I also think it’s worth noting that, in my experience, menthol cigarettes don’t entice kids any more than regular cigarettes. I’ve never been able to tolerate more than a puff of a menthol, and even then, I think it’s gross. And this is coming from someone that’s been a regular smoker since forever. My first cigarettes where the ones I swiped from my dad and I’m guessing that’s the case for a lot of kids. If your parents smoke menthols, there’s probably a good chance you will as well (if that’s how you got started).
So whether black people consume the majority of menthols because that’s just the way the habit has been passed down through the generations or they smoke them because they’re marketed at them, I don’t know.

Having said that, the article in the OP didn’t seem to present the anti-menthol thing as a ‘it makes kids smoke’ issue, so that’s good. However, I’m not sure I understand why “Opponents of a ban argue that it will translate to more over policing of Black communities”.
I assume, maybe incorrectly, that the FDA will make it illegal to produce menthol cigarettes, not that local police are going to be ticketing/arresting individuals possessing or using menthol cigarettes, right?
If the idea is to actually require local jurisdictions to enforce a law stating people can’t smoke menthols anymore, that I’d disagree with that as well. But a federal law prohibiting the manufacture of them, that’s entirely different. If they’re not getting made, they won’t get smoked (and the black market for them will dry up in a hurry).

I do not use tobacco, but I don’t care that others do.

If menthol cigs are banned, won’t a clever entrepreneur market drops designed to add menthol flavor to tobacco or cigarettes?

It’s absolutely ridiculous and Biden is a major-league asshole for even considering something like this.

Freddie Gray was killed for selling loose cigarettes. Yes, black people like menthol cigarettes. I know as a white guy I have to really avoid making generalizations and saying stuff like this. I know that. It doesn’t change the fact that black people like menthol cigarettes. When people like something, they’re going to get it. Making that thing illegal means that more cops are going to be called, more doors are going to be kicked in, more cars are going to be pulled over, and more people, disproportionately minorities, hassled over it.

This is total bullshit and - once again - Biden is a major-league asshole if he’s even considering doing this.

The one thing I know about menthol cigarettes is that, unlike other second hand situations, it didn’t make me cough when someone smoked next to me. There was the familiar burning sensation, but also a soothing effect. Even though I would never smoke, I caught myself thinking that, if it wasn’t so unhealthy and I ever did, it would have to be menthols.

So I wonder if you can show that menthol makes smoking easier due to that effect. Or if it just doesn’t matter because everyone gets used to any smoking.

Two things.
1)If manufacturers can no longer make menthol cigarettes, how are people going to get them. That’s why I mentioned that, if this goes through, it needs to be directed at cigarette makers, not users. That would, I think, solve the police problem. If someone has a pack of Newports or is rolling their own menthol cigarettes, the cops shouldn’t worry about it. If Phillip Morris starts distributing Marlboro Menthols, worry about that.

2)Regarding the looseys (and I assume you meant Eric Garner, not Freddie Gray), which the article also mentioned, ISTM that the ONLY thing the two of these have to do with each other is that cigarettes are involved. But his death wasn’t about the cigarettes. Had he been selling individual beers, the situation likely would have played out the same.

They do have a bit of an anesthetic quality and sort of make your throat a bit numb. I suppose that could help a new smoker get used to them faster or a regular smoker still be able to suck down as many as usual when they’re sick (most people back off when they have a sore throat). But for a lot of people, myself included, I can’t smoke them. I just despise the taste and feel of them. If they got rid of all cigarettes except menthols, I’d likely never smoke again.

Prohibitions of popular vices always work don’t they?

I’m not understanding you here. Where and how did “someone have a pack of Newports” if they’re illegal? You don’t think that, even if the companies are banned from producing new menthols, people aren’t gonna be selling old stock on the gray market?

Yes, we have a situation here where so many black guys are constantly killed for petty BULLSHIT reasons that I can’t even keep their names straight anymore. Enough with the petty bullshit. Enough with pointless vice laws.

You answered your own question, if they’re illegal, people will get them from the black market (I even mentioned that earlier). My point being, if these laws go into effect, they need to not be concerned with the person walking down the street with a pack of Newports. They need to be concerned with making sure the manufacturers aren’t making menthols. If they’re illegal for cigarette manufacturers to make, the black market issue will be minuscule… I think. And, as I said, it’ll dry up quickly. At least for old stock of mass produced menthols.

It would be like if they decided that 40oz beers are illegal. Then they need to enforce it by making it illegal for breweries to bottle beer in 40oz bottles/cans, not for the random consumer to possess one. If you still have some left over, drink up. Same with the cigarettes. If you bought a dozen cartons before they had to stop making them, you’ll have 2400 totally legal menthol cigarettes for yourself.

We see how well that worked with weed.

Bottom line, I have zero doubt - ZERO - that even if this law is supposedly aimed at the big corporations, it’s the little guy on the street who’s really going to feel it. And you know what? Let that guy have his little vices in life. Stop trying to micromanage him.

Sometimes I think I went to sleep and woke up in the Twilight Zone. We are banning menthols because they kill black people? Can we stereotype more? Cut down on KFC because fried chicken has too much cholesterol, killing blacks? Prop up watermelon farming? I mean, this goes against everything I have been taught about race relations.

The optics and meme-worthiness of it alone should have made them stop and think about what they were proposing. It’s totally idiotic.

If they want to ban all added tobacco flavors, I’d be in favor of that. But to single out menthol? Why? Are we taking away a product that black people prefer, because we want to help black people specifically? Seems… unwise at best, patronizing at worst, a PR disaster either way.

Nobody knows, but not necessarily:

That works:

I was wondering who would go there first, and I can’t say I’m surprised.

All other flavors (which represented a much smaller market) were banned back in like 2009, menthols were specifically exempted from the ban. This is proposing to extend the ban on other flavored cigarettes to include menthols, thus banning all flavored cigarettes.

These FDA bans affect manufacture and distribution, they would not affect individuals using previously purchased cigarettes.

Anyway, while I understand smoking is a public health concern, i don’t smoke, smoking is bad for you and all that, I fundamentally don’t agree that it’s the government’s job to make it so I can’t smoke tobacco if I want to–it’s government’s job to make sure tobacco companies aren’t allowed to lie about tobacco being healthy, it’s government’s job to warn us tobacco causes cancer and all that. Now, if there was something about menthol cigarettes biologically, that made them specifically more harmful to users and it was a genuine safety issue above and beyond the background harm of chronic tobacco use, I could see it.

Nobody’s talked about banning all cigarettes (at least not in this proposal or this thread), so I’m not sure where that tangent came from.

I do think the state has an interest in not allowing vendors to make dangerous drugs more enticing or easy to consume. Along that lines, banning added flavors is totally kosher (imo). I haven’t kept up with all the flavoring developments since I quit, but if menthol is merely the final flavor to be banned, then I have no problem with that.

Except… if that’s the case, it does put the racial dimension in a somewhat different light… you’re telling me that the US banned all cigarette flavors in 2009, except the one favored by black consumers? Uh… that’s definitely not cool, and definitely not smooth-tasting at all.

My understanding is the market for non-menthol, flavored cigarettes was extremely small. I think the policy makers were basically acting proactively to avoid any other flavors becoming popular, menthols were exempted essentially because they were the flavor lots of people were using. Basically there was a desire to avoid pissing a bunch of people off by taking their cigarettes away.