Banning menthol cigarettes

Yes, because menthol is more addictive.

I don’t buy that (assuming it’s true) as a justification for banning menthol cigarettes.

In a post above, I indicated that I’d have far less of a problem with banning cigarettes altogether. It would be much fairer, and really, the world would be better off without smoking.

But I still think that the menthol ban would be in the same category as the ban on smoking in New York City public housing – a prohibition on something that Black people (and, in the case of public housing, poor(er) people do, but there’s a lot of overlap there) do that middle-class white people are permitted to do without question.

Targeting Black people (and that’s exactly what this regulation would do) doesn’t sit well with me at all. I don’t think this is right. It seems like the people who would like to ban smoking altogether know that they can’t get away with that if they ban smoking by white people, but they can if they ban the favorite smoke of Black smokers. So they’re going to do that.

It stinks.

Can you make a case that the tobacco companies have marketed tobacco products (menthol or otherwise) harder and more effectively to Black people than they have to white people?

That would be a great argument for a ban on tobacco advertising (which, for all practical purposes, already exists). Not so much for banning menthol cigarettes and no other cigarettes.

“We don’t smoke that s_ _ _. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the
young, the poor, the black and stupid.”1
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Executive
The tobacco industry has a long history of going to great lengths to target the African-American
community. Decades of research affirms patterns of strategic marketing to African Americans through
point-of-sale marketing, price discounts, branding, and traditional advertising venues, particularly for
mentholated tobacco products and cheap little cigars and cigarillos. As a result of market research, the
cigarette companies know that most African-American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes and they exploit
this preference in their marketing efforts to African Americans, in general, and to African-American kids, in
particular, as evidenced by internal industry documents:
Philip Morris: “Marlboro would probably have a very difficult time getting anywhere in the
young black market. The odds against it there are heavy. Young blacks have
found their thing, and it’s menthol in general and Kool in particular.”
RJ Reynolds: “Since younger adult Blacks overwhelmingly prefer menthol cigarettes,
continued emphasis on Salem within the Black market is recommended.
Salem is already positioned against younger adults. With emphasis on the
younger adult Black market, Salem may be able to provide an alternative to
Newport and capitalize on Kool’s decline.”3
For decades, tobacco companies have specifically targeted minority communities, particularly AfricanAmericans, with intense advertising and promotional efforts. A wealth of research indicates that African
American neighborhoods have a disproportionate number of tobacco retailers, pervasive tobacco
marketing, and in particular, more marketing of menthol products

And no, there is no ban on Tobacco ads. Yes, not on TV or film (although they can and do pay for smoking scenes in films , but not for any particular brand), but in print, on stores, etc. Magazines often has smoking ads.

Oh and do not think I am being rude or ignoring you if I do not reply. I will step out of this thread for a day or two.

Distinction without a difference.

Why do people choose menthol cigarettes over regular ones? Is it because the menthol makes it more enticing to them, or because the menthol makes it more disgusting?

I can’t find a point here, but… fruit is a flavor. Menthol is a flavor. Flavors are added to increase appeal, not decrease it. Are you suggesting they have a different purpose?

Not really. Menthol cigarettes are, well, cigarettes. They’re smoked by many people. Flavored tobaccos are a novelty product. Kind of like clove cigarettes. In the American tobacco market, they’re niche products. Newports or Marlboro Greens aren’t niche products.

Because the people around them smoke menthols. When they start smoking, that’s what they start with. Same reason people choose non-menthol smokes over menthol smokes.

If menthols are so enticing, why do most smokers choose non-menthols?

There’s another PDF from that site that I was going to introduce:


Corporate America doesn’t always ‘mine’ existing markets. They’re also market makers. I’m not so sure it’s a clear chicken/egg in this one, but my gut tells me that they found a niche – whether for good reason or absent any other than craven economics – and exploited the hell out of it.

Maybe the same can be said for “malt liquor.” I haven’t looked into it.

But ISTM that the way to attack this “problem,” if we decide it is a problem, is to create a broader understanding of how we got to this point.

Maybe the menthol consumers will be only as eager to be told that “they’ve been had,” and have been treated as rubes and pawns by wealthy and powerful (primarily) White people as … MAGA types are to hear that they’ve been had by the same basic cohort.

But not through legislation like this. Nuh-uh.

And you’re dead wrong, and you were dead wrong the first time. This is like saying “I banned barbecue chicken, but you can still have grilled chicken.” Well damn it, maybe I don’t like grilled chicken. They are not the same thing.

My core issue with this, is if I was a black man who had smoked menthols his whole life (and I’m not on either count), if I walk into a convenience store post ban, my cigarettes are gone and banned. I can’t buy them anymore. A white dude comes in and can still buy the Marlboro 100s or whatever he’s been smoking his entire life, cigarettes that from what I can tell are basically identically as bad for him as the menthols were for me.

Cigarette smoking isn’t a smart habit to acquire, but I believe people deserve agency to do harmful drugs as long as they aren’t hurting other people in the process. To be honest, the 2009 law that gives the FDA regulatory oversight over tobacco should be repealed, and is bad law. Tobacco is not intended as a medical drug, it is sold as a pleasure drug for consumption of nicotine. The FDA doesn’t have similar authority over alcohol (it can only regulate food safety elements of some alcohol products and labeling, but it cannot do much else.) The FDA was created to make medical products safe for people to buy, in response to snake oil salesmen and other things. This is a social good because if you need medicine or a medical device or such, you should have reasonable belief that it is safe, and specific information about the caveats if it has dangers.

Tobacco doesn’t fit this. People smoke tobacco because they like it, and they know it is bad for them. It is not being consumed with any belief it is improving one’s physical health.

What is the difference between a menthol cigarette and a regular cigarette? A flavor. Specifically, the flavor menthol. To suggest they aren’t flavored cigarettes is… a really strange hill to die on.

I know, right? It’s almost as if tastes differ among consumers. That would be wild!

Dave Chappelle on why Black people like menthol. :slight_smile:

It would be, if I’d suggested that. But I didn’t. I did suggest that flavored tobaccos were a niche product not really all that comparable to cigarettes. Flavored cigarettes aren’t really much of a thing. Except for menthols.

They do. So why target one set of consumers? Why target Black smokers?

If we’re going to ban the cigarettes preferred by Black smokers, without banning the smokes preferred by white smokers, it seems grotesquely unfair. And paternalistic. And racist.

You are suggesting “I can’t have my favorite thing” is the same as “I can’t have the thing AT ALL?” That’s not even an argument, it’s what my kid says when she can’t have her favorite cookies.

As a former smoker I can tell you this: people pick up the habit because they think it looks cool, and they stay on it because of the drug that’s in it. The drug is all they need. If you take the menthols away, smokers will absolutely switch to an unflavored brand. They’ll bitch about it for a few days, or the rest of their life, but their drug cravings will be satisfied. Or, they’ll quit over it (but probably not).

And taking that away, is not the proper role of government, even more so when it’s mixed with pernicious racial paternalism.

Then what’s the point of the menthol ban?

Nobody’s demonstrated in this thread even once that racial paternalism is involved. People are speculating so they can get mad and self-righteous about the thing they speculated. Stop making stuff up.

How do you think the hypothetical Black man described by Martin_Hyde will perceive the ban?

Do you think he’ll be grateful to the government for banning his favorite smokes? Or do you think he’ll perceive it as racist?

Here are the points you continually make me repeat. I’ll repeat them again now.

  1. Menthol is a flavor.
  2. Flavors are added to cigarettes to make them more enticing.
  3. The state has declared an interest in preventing manufacturers from making a dangerous drug more enticing.
  4. The fact that smokers do not universally prefer menthol doesn’t mean that menthol isn’t added enticement for some other users.
  5. Tobacco is a delivery system for a drug called nicotine, and smokers can still obtain that fix regardless of whether their preferred flavor is on offer.

His hypothetical man’s preferences are totally negated and destroyed my hypothetical men on first and third, who both say they’d happily settle for another brand, and that Martin Hyde is speculating well afield of his area of familiarity. I can call more hypothetical witnesses if those aren’t good enough for you.

Sorry, none of that adds up to justification for a ban on one kind of cigarettes, but not others.

Argue for a total ban on cigarettes. I might even be with you on that. I think the case can be made.

But banning the preferred smokes of Black smokers is, well, it’s not going to go over well. Again I ask, how do you think the hypothetical Black smoker described by Martin_Hyde would react to that?

Smoking sucks. It’s bad. But a law that deprives mostly Black smokers of their favorite brand while not affecting most white smokers seems to be to be unjust.

Just like NYC’s law prohiting smoking (all smoking) in public housing.