Banning menthol cigarettes

Like Camel Crush? You can buy the capsules (and insert them into the filters yourself) in many flavors on Amazon.

I highly doubt a prohibition on menthols is going to lead to people growing and aging tobacco in their basement.

Ahh, the product already exists? Cool. Or Kool, I guess.

I thought they were killed resisting or fleeing.

What about shisha (flavored wet tobacco for hookah smoking), is that still legal?

To inject facts into what seemingly has degenerated into a civil rights debate:

There are health issues that go beyond the black community.

“Young adults who smoke menthol cigarettes are more likely to be female, black or Hispanic, or identify as LGBT compared to non-menthol smokers, according to new research from the Truth Initiative® Young Adult Cohort Study and published in Addictive Behaviors.”

“A similar pattern emerged with other flavored tobacco products, including little cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco. The survey results indicated that users of flavored tobacco are more likely to be young and female.”

The board of directors of this organization, for what it’s worth, appears to be more than one-third black.

The CDC cites evidence that menthol cigarettes make it more attractive to start smoking, and harder to quit.

For more background:

A crackdown on flavored vapes under the Trump administration got watered down, in part to exempt menthol flavor.

Not pointing fingers at anyone in this thread, but it seems likely that right-wing opponents of the Biden Administration will be targeting a proposed menthol cigarette ban as part of a faux concern about impact on the black community.

I read about this proposal just a little while ago.

I think it’s beyond stupid. And yes, there’s a paternalistic element to it. It is true that menthol cigarettes are far more popular among Black smokers than among white smokers.

But it comes across wrong. It comes across as regulating the habits of Black people in a way that the bad habits of other people aren’t regulated.

In New York, we’ve already got a paternalistic law that’s not dissimilar. Smoking is prohibited in all New York City Housing Authority buildings (a/k/a “the projects”).

I think this is outrageous. We ban behavior in the projects (which are obviously inhabited by the far less wealthy among New Yorkers) which is entirely legal and unremarkable among the middle and upper classes.

I see a menthol cigarette ban as more of the same.

Go ahead, ban cigarettes (and tobacco in general). There’s an actual argument to be made in favor of a tobacco ban. But this selective ban, which will be perceived (with some justification) as being aimed mostly at Black smokers, is wrong-headed at best. And racist (in a paternalistic way) at worst.

That’s the point I was trying to make earlier–I broadly believe, and I think most of America believes, you should be allowed to smoke even if it is bad for you, people have, or ought have, free agency. If products have negative health effects that are well advertised and well known, I think they should generally be permitted to be sold. Exceptions of course would be products that are broadly dangerous to other people (which is why I am fine with many states tightly regulating fireworks and prohibiting the sale of some types of dangerous fireworks–if they only blew the fingers off the idiots launching them and weren’t a risk to bystanders, I’d feel differently.)

The argument for banning menthols seems to basically be “it will cause more black people to quit smoking, and it’s bad that they exist since they disproportionately are smoked by blacks, and we should protect black people from smoking.” There’s multiple things I find distasteful with that whole line of thinking.

America is a country of many subcultures, some of which have different food, beverage and lifestyle choices. For example there are several traditional American Jewish culinary items that are infamously high in saturated fats and nitrates. I don’t think that justifies targeting regulations at them, on the logic that “well this stuff is mostly consumed by Jews and thus it would help Jewish health if we banned it.”

Likewise I find it unpersuasive that most young people who use menthols are blacks. I suspect most young people who use unflavored cigarettes are not black. Should we ban regular cigarettes to protect those young people? It seems much more likely that black youth who choose to start smoking, smoke menthols because in the black subculture menthols are a much more popular variant of cigarettes. This doesn’t make menthols particularly “immoral” to me, it seems more like just a cultural difference between different cultural groups in America.

Weakening this analogy is the fact that you can have a pastrami sandwich every now and then without compromising your health.

The same cannot be said for acquiring a smoking habit.

I don’t think anyone actually made that argument. I think some people inferred that before all the facts were in.

In fact, wasn’t it you yourself who mentioned that other flavors were banned in 2009, and menthol is merely the last flavor to get the ax? That suggests the opposite of it being about racial paternalism.

I think I already pointed this out the first time you said it, but let me repeat: this isn’t about the government making it so you can’t smoke. It’s just a ban on a flavor, and I think you know that. People can still consume it all they want, businesses can still sell and distribute the dangerous drug. But it’s eminently reasonable to ban them from making it more attractive or enticing. You can still kill yourself if you want, but it won’t be a mango-flavored suicide.

I doubt that. Look, it’s not the menthol it’s the nicotine they are addicted to. They will just switch to regular cigs or perhaps vaping. Vaping would be a small win.

The FDA has already banned other flavored cigarettes, and I have not heard of any black market in those.

In 2018, the FDA moved to limit flavored e-cigarette products that appealed to children, including fruit and mint, but menthol was not included. That came nine years after the agency banned cigarettes with “characterizing flavors other than menthol,” which also appealed to youth.


The majority of Black Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes, according to the CDC, and a majority who started smoking began using menthol cigarettes. The product is more addictive than cigarettes without menthol, studies show, and has a cooling effect in the body.

No, it’s not “just a ban on a flavor.” It’s a ban on a variety of cigarette that is favored, and mostly consumed, by one particular ethnic/racial/cultural group.

You’re assuming that menthol cigarettes are more attractive or enticing. Given that most people who smoke don’t smoke menthol cigarettes, I don’t think that’s a given.

Menthol cigarettes are simply not the same thing as some fruit-flavored shisha or other product smoked, as far as I can tell, by elderly men in Middle Eastern neighborhoods or by the occasional teenager fooling around with a hookah.

Good post.

And note that Menthol cigs are more addictive.

Big Tobacco has marketed menthol to blacks for decades. Is that because blacks prefer menthol or because it has been pushed on them by marketing? I suspect the latter.

Because Big Tobacco has pushed this more addictive version on the Black Community.

Blacks are the victims here, not being penalized.

And they’ve marketed Marlboros to white people for even longer.

This proposal is specifically designed to target Black smokers. Nobody is talking about banning the brands that most white people smoke. That bothers me.

I suspect the former.

Why would “Big Tobacco” push menthol to blacks specifically if they weren’t predisposed to like it already? The way marketing works is that you market your product to the segment most likely to buy it. Anyone suggesting that a business entity randomly decided to target a specific product to a specific group needs to come up with some sort of rational motivation before the claim can be taken seriously.

Yes, and it is because big Tobacco has pushed the more addictive menthol onto blacks.

Are Black smokers of, say, Newports more “victims” than white smokers of Marlboros?

I don’t think that they invented menthol cigs for African Americans. I think that for whatever reason AAs tended to like them better decades ago so they marketed them towards the trend which caused them to be even more popular in the group and so on.

Possibly unrelated but a friend of mine in college had a relative who was a high up executive in a tobacco company. She said that he thought that the link between cigarettes and cancer was bullshit (this would have been in the 70s) but he always warned her against menthols. According to him, they used the shittiest tobacco, basically floor scrapings, for those cigarettes since the menthol masked the flavor.