Banning menthol cigarettes

Oh, I see. So because the Civil Rights Act selectively increased the political power held by black people, but not white people, then by your lights that was a racist piece of legislation?

If so, your definition of ‘racist’ is so broad as to be both meaningless . Or you’re just quibbling semantically for some sort of arguing points. Either way it’s of no use to anyone.

Reducing racist policy is not racism. Would you say that the emancipation proclamation was racist because it disproportionately benefited black people?

This disproportionately negatively affects black people, that is why it is racially biased.

Uh… I just specifically called out this line of reasoning as being invalid and dumb. So, shockingly, I find your analogy to be likewise dumb. I’m not calling you dumb here but I’m mystified why you’d challenge me on something I just finished affirming.

Okay, first off, I don’t think anyone has demonstrated any significant negative affect on black people, except for the hypothetical strawman who might need to choose a different type of dangerous drug. Who very likely may only reflect a tiny slice of smokers, and who may be vastly outnumbered by people who either don’t care, or strongly disapprove that cigarettes are being selectively pushed in the first place. We don’t actually know, we just know that some folks who really dislike government regulation have invented an imaginary man who hates this regulation for a different reason.

But I want to attack this silly premise head-on here. If we stipulate for argument’s sake that there will be disproportionate inconvenience, can we consider for a moment why this is? Is there a biological fact that makes certain people crave menthols? Is there a gene that causes this? Are certain people born into the world with a certain predisposition? Or are there other factors at work?

What if there’s nothing really “black” about menthols? What if black people disproportionately consume this dangerous drug because someone decided that selectively manufacturing demand was a great way to earn more tobacco profits? If that were true, wouldn’t that tip the scales pretty decisively away from “they just like their smokes, leave them alone?”

So then, would seeking a cure for sickle cell anaemia be “racist”? After all, that would certainly significantly affect more black people than white people.

Is sickle-cell often considered one of the “few pleasures” that people of modest means have ?

For good or for ill (no pun intended), junk food, alcohol, street drugs, and tobacco often are.

In the context of banning flavoured cigarettes this in not selective enforcement, it is actually the opposite, flavoured cigarettes were selectively banned and now the legislation is doing away with this nonsensical selection.

Instead of examining this through the lends of racism, perhaps it would be better to look at it through the lens of equality and health - everyone is being affected by the ban, just as they were affected by the ban on all other flavours - there is no logic whatsoever in banning all the other possible flavours and yet leaving one flavour out - because we all understand how big tobacco works, it will always target segments of the market with the products it is allowed to sell and when it finds a way in then that route will be exploited ruthlessly.

You can bet the tobacco industry saw this selective enforcement as a fantastic opportunity and their selective promotion has been designed especially to exploit the lines of racial division in the US, and my, it has worked incredibly well due to the naysayers fears of racial disparity of ending the original selective laws in the first place.

The real discrimination is the way tobacco has used a cynical campaign to hit one part of the community, had other flavours been available they would certainly have been aimed at children and young adults - such as by attaching sponsorship to activities associated with the young - which it has done in the past.

The whole claimed racial issue is just a smokescreen - almost literally.

This is 100% the right answer. I was alluding to it above. The prevalence of menthols in the black community isn’t an accident of birth or culture. It was a deliberate campaign of nearly a century of what we could describe in shorthand as ‘blaxploitation’, with advertisers deliberately coding their product as “black” to selectively manufacture demand in a particular marketing segment, with the intention of making profit on the lives of black people.

It’s demonstrably irrational and absurd to say “that’s racist” when we look at a policy that aims to reverse a harmful racist inequity. One could only do that if they were heavily invested in ignorance of that history, for whatever reason.

I don’t really understand the argument that a company used racial targeting in its marketing to promote product, so we should then ban that product? When functionally identical products were marketed and sold to other racial groups, and we aren’t banning those products? Plus as has been noted, it is all but certainly the case the black community simply had a higher baseline preference for menthols, tobacco executives noticed this and did work to increase sales. There’s a long history of tobacco companies marketing products to kids, to white people, to women etc. They behaved not dissimilar to how a great many companies behave when marketing products. The difference is we as a society decided that because their core product causes lung cancer and a host of other problems, and they concealed this fact, that a lot of this wasn’t okay. That’s why the tobacco companies have paid out billions in settlements, that’s why tobacco advertising is massively limited in modern times versus what it once was. If it’s the marketing that’s inappropriate, go after the marketing.

There is no real justification in my mind for telling free thinking adults they can’t do a harmful drug. Especially one with a well established manufacturing pipeline so the drug users knows exactly what they are getting, especially one with a large user base that make their own decisions to take up smoking and to cease or not cease smoking. If you want to stop people from using dangerous drugs you should use education and other forms of outreach–which appear to have been very successful in reducing America’s smoking rate thus far.

This speaks far too much of a society frustrated that “not everyone is listening” to the smart people, so time to make decisions for people instead. On some things like matters of national defense, international relations, monetary policy etc we do make decisions for people who otherwise couldn’t make the correct decisions themselves. But when it comes to what people put in their bodies the decision ought remain with the individual, we do not need the state making this decision.

Firstly, the products that are targeted toward other racial, or cultural groups are not known to be provably harmful - menthol flavoured tobacco is at least as harmful as plain tobacco and may be more harmful if it encourages greater personal consumption.

Point being, other harmful products are indeed either banned or are controlled for example we restrict the sale of alchohol pretty heavily away from younger folk, in the UK various sweet alcoholic beverages were banned because the flavours were far too close to those of fizzy drinks and very enticing to young people - there was very heavy social pressure put upon the industry to self regulate with the implied threat of legislation.

Nowadays it is the way that drink is advertised that leads the booze industry into trouble, rather than the product itself - this link shows how alcopops became a concern which prompted a knee jerk reaction, but in the end it was the public concept of image of the product that has led to its downfall which could easily summarised as the way it was promoted which raised the public outcry, once that type of promotion was gone then sales fell and the concern has similarly melted away.

Nobody is saying they ‘cannot do a harmful drug’ at all, plain tobacco is still on sale and perfectly legal.

It makes little sense conceptually to ban flavoured cigarettes on the grounds that they make smoking easier and more attractive on the one hand and then implement that ban to leave one remaining flavour - very illogical, surely you either ban all flavour additives or you ban none.

Its very instructive to observe how tobacco companies then found a way to exploit that one flavour and imagine what would almost certainly have happened if indeed the others had not been banned - from this we can reasonably infer that other flavours would also have been targeted toward specific markets.

You will likely argue that the problem isn’t the product, rather its the way it is marketed and targeted - perhaps so but legislators have decided on a public health narrative.

If you don’t like the nanny state you are free to lobby for change but it is reasonable for responsible states to attempt to protect their citizens where they can - even from their own stupidity, which is why we have consumer product safety law, there is always someone around who happens to be just that dumb.

Were alcopops ever popular? ISTM teenagers out drinking in public usually just buy a bottle of cheap booze, e.g. vodka, and mix it with something. Or just drink wine or beer or cider. Alcopops are needlessly expensive for their purposes.

In that vein, I do not picture many kids specifically seeking out Camel Purple Mints and Djarum Black Cappucinos on the black market. But, who knows…

Well, that is why it is not racist to ban the product. The reason to ban the product is that is is more addictive than other cigs.

Because it kills 50000 non-smokers a year.

I think freedom of choice arguments go out the window when a company is selling a product that is inherently addictive and causes several different forms of cancer. And even if it doesn’t, it can cause extensive lung damage and other health problems. I’m not necessarily advocating for a ban but I’m not arguing against it either.

I mean you can literally apply this argument to many drugs and many other things as well. Red meat is linked with increased colon cancer risk, and there is significant evidence that many people process highly-palatable prepared foods in a manner very akin to addicts do with drugs. Alcohol is a list of health effects that rival those of tobacco and it is not being put on the chopping block. Sugary drinks and snacks in general follow on with this as well.

When government interferes in the free business of people it should have a good and compelling reason to do so. “Because people are enjoying things that might shorten their lifespan” is not compelling enough, at least not when those people have available to them the real facts of the matter. I do think government has an interest in creating a market where buyers and sellers know exactly what is being sold and as best as possible, the risks involved. So the era when tobacco companies could market cigarettes as “healthy” was a dark time and rightly is not allowed any longer.

How about when they are killing 50000 nonsmokers a year? That is a very good and compelling reason.

Hey, I’m speaking as a bit of a lush myself - I’m with you on not wanting the government getting overly invasive. But it’s kinda their job to some degree, especially when you consider how much citizens spend on healthcare costs, both public and private.

Personally, I think education is a better weapon against all sorts of vices, but that doesn’t preclude the government occasionally stepping in and curbing what is arguably deceptive or abusive corporate behavior in terms of marketing dangerous products to people.

That has already been debunked by my earlier links, there is essentially no real evidence that secondhand smoke is killing anything like that number of people per year in the United States.

No, it has not. All that has been shown is one, count them one, study by non medical professionals who say it does not have the short term effects as some studies said. It said nothing whatsoever about long term effects.

That cite in no way shape or form indicated SHS does not kill 50000 Americans a year.

I gave seven cites that show SHS is deadly.

Here are some more

SHS exposure in restaurants and bars alone can impose high lifetime excess risks of lung cancer death and ischemic heart disease deaths to both servers and patrons, and can cause a significant number of deaths each year in China. These health risks and deaths can be prevented by banning smoking in restaurants and bars and effectively implementing these smoking bans.


Background— Secondhand smoke increases the risk of coronary heart disease by ≈30%. This effect is larger than one would expect on the basis of the risks associated with active smoking and the relative doses of tobacco smoke delivered to smokers and nonsmokers.

Results. SHS exposure resulted in more than 42 000 deaths: more than 41 000 adults and nearly 900 infants. Blacks accounted for 13% of all deaths but 24% to 36% of infant deaths. SHS–attributable deaths resulted in a loss of nearly 600 000 YPLL and $6.6 billion of lost productivity, or $158 000 per death. The value of lost productivity per death was highest among Blacks ($238 000) and Hispanics ($193 000).

Conclusions. The economic toll of SHS exposure is substantial, with communities of color having the greatest losses. Interventions need to be designed to reduce the health and economic burden of smoking on smokers and nonsmokers alike and on particularly vulnerable groups.

Conclusions— The effects of secondhand smoke are substantial and rapid, explaining the relatively large risks that have been reported in epidemiological studies.

Continue to educate. It’s a fucking plant. If it’s as bad as you say, educate. PSAs. Sin taxes as an absolute last resort.

If you do all that, yet people still want it, que sera sera.

Part of the counter to it being a ‘sin plant’ is that we need to protect those who are vulnerable, which means those who may not be able to make an informed choice.

Tobacco advertising has been specifically targeted toward young people - which is why in many countries tobacco advertising has been banned completely, and in some countries even tobacco branding has been banned.

No matter what restrictions have ever been placed upon the tobacco industry in terms of advertising, it found ingenious ways around those restrictions. In the UK you cannot have tobacco products on open display in any form, nor can you have any tobacco associated imagery on display.

Education has not succeeded in killing off tobacco, nor has high taxation, nor age restrictions on purchases, the industry is a cynical wheedling parasite that evolves and cannot be trusted to behave in a responsible manner in its marketing - hence the flat out ban.

Any form of latitude given to the industry is used to peddle its wares to hook new addicts, the whole concept of one brand being preferable to another is one way - when the whole point of smoking is the delivery of nicotine - nothing else at all.

So if people wish to purchase a product that delivers nicotine then brand is unimportant, flavour is unimportant - all that is required is a utilitatrian approach - in that vapes outscores tobacco and one day maybe the true risks from vaping will become more of an issue and control measures will need to be implemented.

Right now menthol flavour is just a promotional vehicle - get rid of it, I do not know the consumer rules in the US such as how or where advertising of tobacco products is regulated.

It’s worth noting who actually pays out for the deleterious effects of smoking, its not only those who are affected by smoke, the whole of society has to fork out in terms of healthcare, increased illness which results in reduced productivity, renewal of internal decor, increased littering, more fires.

The tobacco industry simply does not pay the full costs of the damage that its products place upon everyone else.

What’s to be done after the company gets away with doing that for 50 years, and gets millions of people hooked on the product, and continually fights toogh-and-nail against every regulation to inform or protect consumers? They get to continue reaping the fruits of those years of targeted deception, and the victims of the exploitation reap cancer and heart disease?

Set aside the arguments about racial paternalism. These companies shouldn’t get to say “oh we stopped doing bad things, don’t bother us.” They still reap the benefits of the exploitation machine they spent years building. They still prey on children, new smokers, uninformed smokers. They rely on it and they always have. They’re doing the same thing in third-world countries where they can get away with it. They need to pay for those sins by seeing that revenue stream wiped off the face of the earth, not continue to profit from their past misdeeds.

No you couldn’t, with the exception of maybe alcohol, and I’d propose the same thing for alcohol as for tobacco or any other drug: require it to be sold in a state-operated store, in brown paper bags marked “Alcohol, a dangerous drug, 40%, rum-flavored. Must be 21 years old with proof of recent physical and psychiatric examination.” Or some such. On the same shelf as the heroin. Yes the aesthetics are blah and unappealing, and that’t the point. Provide a stash clean enough to protect consumers, cheap enough to discourage gang activity, and boring enough not to add aesthetic enticement. It’s a drug, it sells itself, it needs no peppy advertising or branding.

Yes government regulation is good, bring on the nanny state, let the government tell you what you can smoke and how you’re going to do it. Bring it on, and the sooner the better. I find the whole thing about “I don’t like gummint regulations” to be a veneer on “I don’t care if powerful interests exploit their information advantage to kill consumers.” Call me a nanny-state socialist, bonus points if you can casually work Mao and Stalin into the conversation.

I don’t cede an inch to the casually indifferent libertarian perspective on that, nor the the weak slippery-slope arguments about “what’s next, red meat” Let’s try it and see what happens. If we drive every private recreational drug enterprise out of business, whether it’s the Sinaloa cartel, or Philip Morris, well, oopsie, sorry (not sorry). With the same casual indifference that they said “oops, we killed millions of people with cancer and heart disease.” Murder tobacco stocks. Destroy alcohol companies. Kill every associated job. I Do. Not. Care.