I have no idea. I mean, you’re asking a question in response to my question.
I’m asking the question – what would advocates of a menthol ban, here in the United States, say to the Black smoker trying to buy his favorite brand at the local bodega and being refused, while at the same time watching the white smoker buy his favorite brand?
I’ve been trying to find evidence of widespread outrage, especially racially-linked outrage, related to these other bans on menthol cigarettes, and so far I haven’t found any. I’ve seen articles about Massachusetts convenience store owners bitching, but not Massachusetts convenience store customers.
Were I myself asked, I would say that we are banning a product shown to be more addictive and therefore more dangerous than regular cigarettes. This is no different than other restrictions on products more dangerous than similar ones: you can’t buy leaded gas for your car anymore, for example. (This is actually not a bad comparison, although it’s not exact: at the time leaded fuel was effectively removed from the market, a lot of poorer people had older cars built to run on leaded fuel. Meanwhile, contamination and health effects of leaded fuel disproportionately affected poor and minority communities, due to the locations of refineries, gas stations, commercial hubs, and highways.)
That’s just a restatement – “your favorite smoke is banned. You don’t like it? Smoke something else. And, no, the white smoker’s brand isn’t banned.”
Well, no kidding. Nobody has argued otherwise. But I think it’s generally accepted (and has been accepted in this thread) that Black smokers mostly smoke menthols, and white smokers don’t. So what?
Look, I get that the anti-smoking crowd will take whatever they can get, and are perfectly happy to work towards a total ban incrementally, by nibbling around the corners, so to speak, or banning a whole subset of cigarettes.
I don’t like it. I think it would me more honest, and much, much fairer to smokers in general, to just ban tobacco across the board.
The reason I left was not because, as Saintly_Loser speculated, I had no response, but because I was astonished and perplexed by the responses. it seemed silly to try to continue to show that this the fight to ban menthol cigarettes has largely come from Black activist organizations when so many apparently refused to see something that’s not really my opinion but historical fact. I wouldn’t have known about any of that myself if I hadn’t stumbled across it a few years ago when researching something else. I thought I was pointing out something relevant and simply didn’t expect the reaction. That’s on me.
The arguments over whether or not menthol cigarettes are more or less dangerous and over the role of tobacco companies in the issue are important, and I’m sure I can learn more about them here. At heart, though, I was simply hoping that we could rise above our own experiences and arguments to see plainly that we’re overlooking–and now, in some cases, dismissing–the work that’s already been done within Black communities to deal with the issue.
I understand that people resent the government telling them what they can and can’t do, particularly when it comes to their health, habits, or personal pleasures. I also get it that we tend to use our own backgrounds to try to understand how people with other backgrounds think and feel, but there are dangers in so doing. I, too, grew up in a white blue collar community. That experience, however, was substantially different from my friends who lived in nearby Black blue collar communities. To insist that the two experiences are the same is to ignore the differences in community organizations and dynamics, in the importance of grass roots organizations, and in the role of churches in Black communities. It’s not a bunch of “pointy heads” coming in and telling people how to run their lives. It’s simply not that simple.
I’m not sure anyone has insisted that the two are the same. Although certainly community organizations, grass roots organizations and churches were very, very important in the (mostly) white working class environment in which I grew up.
What one poster did say was that “the “working man” on the street that I spent my formative years around liked their smokes and their beer to wind down after work, and would have been upset to see either fucked with by the government.” And by and large, I expect that’s just as true in Black working class communities as in white working class communities.
And I don’t doubt at all that Black activist groups have been working on a menthol ban for quite a while now. I know that, where I live, some groups worked (largely successfully) on a ban on ads for menthol smokes in Black communities, but that’s a somewhat different thing.
I do think your average Black menthol smoker might not agree with those organizations (on this issue), or that ban.
And I don’t either.
I foresee a windfall for bootleggers. And not much else. Not much change, other than who’s making money off selling smokes.
The problem with banning menthols in a single state, especially a geographically smaller state like Massachusetts, is that it’s not that difficult to drive to a neighboring state where they’re still available and buy them there. (Here in Washington, I know it’s not uncommon for people who don’t want to pay our highest-in-the-nation 20.5% sales tax on liquor to drive down to Oregon, where there’s no sales tax at all, to stock up.)
Ban menthols on a nationwide scale, however, and the number of people who are going to drive to Mexico and try to smuggle them across the border is going to be a lot smaller.
What so many people fail to grasp is that life is enough of a pain in the ass already for these people. You get up early every morning, drink your coffee, bust ass all day, you’ve got God knows how many other issues weighing on your mind - maybe there’s drama with your family, maybe your car needs $1000 of repairs and you’re behind on the bills, maybe you’re behind on your rent, whatever - and you just have to keep busting ass and push through it. Work needs to get done. Timelines have to be met. IT’S HARD ENOUGH ALREADY, for fuck’s sake!
And when you get a little break, those little breaks are the reprieves each day that let you pull together a little more willpower to keep going. And they often involve a cigarette.
I drive a truck hauling construction materials. Probably around 60% of the dump truck drivers and other guys who haul around materials for construction in this city are black. Imagine how frustrating the daily commute of a white-collar office worker is, then imagine doing it in a huge, slow, manual truck in stop-and-go city traffic, ALL DAY. I’m not even trying to play the woe-is-me card because these aren’t even the “boots on the ground” guys, the guys who are actually out on the roads laying asphalt or fixing pipes or picking up heavy shit with their hands and moving it from place to place over and over and over again. Almost everyone in these “getting actual shit done that needs to be done for the city to function properly” jobs is a smoker. Probably 50% of all of them are black, they smoke, and I’m not exactly going to go out and take a survey, but I’ll just say most of them smoke menthols.
Do you want to take away one of the precious little things that helps them get through yet another bitch of a day? Is that really looking out for the best interests of the working class?
I would say exactly the same thing I’d say to a white smoker — that I’m incredibly sorry for his family’s loss, that as a father of three children myself, I have just an inkling of the pain he must be feeling, and that if there’s anything I can do to help his family at this time, he shouldn’t hesitate to call. I mean, what else could I say? What would you say?
If you want to cut down or eliminate the negative health effects of second-hand smoking, go ahead, ban tobacco altogether. But a ban targeted at one ethnic group, that is bound to be circumvented by bootlegging, and will be perceived as paternalistic, as telling Black people that they don’t have the same ability to make their own choices about smoking as white people, just isn’t going to achieve that effect.
As so many have pointed out above, even if smokers can’t get menthols, they’ll just smoke something else. But I guarantee you, they’ll be able to get menthols.
The Mohawk reservation is not subject to STATE regulations and excise taxes, but the feds license cigarette manufacturers and collect federal taxes on the reservation, so where are these Newports going to be coming from if the feds ban menthols nationwide? (Canada already bans them.) There are illegal manufacturing operations on some of the reservations, but the feds take a dim view and have active enforcement operations.
I mentioned that reservation because it’s long been a locus of cigarette smuggling, with the active cooperation of tobacco companies (I think I posted a couple of cites about that above).
So where are the cigarettes coming from? Possibly a few places.
One, if the tobacco companies are banned from selling menthol cigarettes domestically, but not from manufacturing them for the overseas market, there will be leakage into the black market. And history has shown that the tobacco companies are perfectly happy to cooperate with the illegal market.
And two, Chinese counterfeiters (and Chinese cigarette counterfeiting is already a massive business) will me more than happy to fill the demand in the US.
Yes, because the nicotine addiction makes every day a bit more “bitchy”- since it causes stress until you feed the addiction by lighting up. And i really doubt your “Almost everyone in these “getting actual shit done that needs to be done for the city to function properly” jobs is a smoker.” Because the numbers of smokers is small and getting smaller. It is 15% nationwide and only 10% in some states like CA.
Not to mention if the job is that much of a grind, you do not need to be wasting $20 a day, $7000 a year on the habit. if you job nets you $40K a year after taxes, you are spending over 15% of your take home pay on a deadly addiction.
And smokers kill 50000 non-smokers a year by secondhand smoke, so it is time to realize that.