Arguments Against FDA’s Menthol Ban Deceptive

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Arguments Against FDA’s Menthol Ban Deceptive – Expert; Long-Delayed Move Ends Discrimination With Virtually No Downsides

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FDA's Menthol Ban: Facts vs Arguments

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 29, 2021) - The arguments against the FDA's decision to ban menthol from cigarettes vanish like a puff of smoke when compared with the facts, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf who helped - with several leading African American leaders - to trigger this long-standing battle against a deadly racist loophole.

Some have suggested that it is discriminatory to single out for a ban the one flavor additive which is overwhelming favored by African Americans, but that's a smokescreen, says Banzhaf. Here's why.

If there were many artificial flavors used in cigarettes and only menthol was to be banned, the decision might be termed racist.

But what actually happened is that all cigarette flavoring agents except for menthol were banned in 2009 by the federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act [FSPTCA].

That's when the discrimination against Blacks occurred; Congress created what has been called the deadly "menthol loophole" when it banned all other flavorings from cigarettes.

Indeed, if menthol had been banned along with all other cigarette flavors ten years ago, some 17,000 premature Black deaths would have been prevented, and half a million African Americans would not have started smoking, he notes.

Correcting An Act Of Racial Discrimination

So today the FDA is simply acting to correct this earlier act of racial discrimination by Congress, say Banzhaf who, along with former HEW secretary Louis Sullivan, helped start the movement to get menthol out of cigarettes more than a decade earlier.

Black lives don't matter to the tobacco industry, except as source of additional profit which they have continued to rely upon by protecting this deadly racist loophole, says Banzhaf.

With all the emphasis and concern about black youngsters being killed by police, the FDA has ignored and even exacerbating a much more serious problem in terms of lives lost, suggests Banzhaf.

For example, as AATCLC has complained: “For every black man murdered, there are 6-8 dying of tobacco diseases. We can’t wait until what’s happening with police brutality is solved to address thousands dying from cigarettes.”

The ACLU argues against the FDA's move because it allegedly would "trigger criminal penalties, prioritizing criminalization over public health and harm reduction, and instigate unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

But since the measure would not apply to individual smokers, it would not criminalize them nor lead to unconstitutional policing by local law enforcement officials.

States Have Already Banned Menthol-Flavored Cigarettes

This is hardly subject to any argument since Massachusetts and California - as well as many local jurisdictions - have already banned the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes without any allegations of "unconstitutional policing."

Indeed, if such menthol bans - on cigarettes and increasingly e-cigarettes - raised constitutional or other legal issues, law suits attacking the legislation would certainly have been brought by now by the litigious and well financed tobacco industry, says Banzhaf, who has first hand experience with such litigation.

That's why he's been called "The Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials," "The Law Professor Who Masterminded Litigation Against the Tobacco Industry," and "a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars."

Menthol itself is not at all addictive, so smokers who are used to smoking menthol cigarettes can fully satisfy any addictive craving they may have for nicotine by smoking other brands, and the fact that the smoke might not seem quite so smooth without the menthol might even help many to do what they already want to do, quit smoking, argues Banzhaf.