Biden Menthol Cigarette Ban Delayed Amid Political Pushback

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

The delay, which was posted Wednesday, now says officials plan to finalize rules to put the ban in place in March

By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Intense lobbying from the tobacco industry has led the Biden administration to again delay enacting a ban on menthol cigarettes. Along with that pressure, other critics of the ban have warned that it might anger Black smokers, who use menthol cigarettes at far higher rates than Whites — just as President Biden gears up to run for reelection, administration officials told The Washington Post.

The delay, which was posted Wednesday, now says officials plan to finalize rules to put the ban in place in March. Officials had originally planned to finalize the rules last August and later signaled to public health groups that they hoped to finish them by January, The Post reported. Still, the ban would not likely go into effect for several years because of the legal challenges that many expect will come.

But antismoking advocates are not waiting to push passage of the ban. Karen Knudsen, chief executive of the American Cancer Society, said her organization is among a coalition of public health associations that this month will take out ads in national newspapers, send letters to lawmakers, and use other measures to push the Biden administration to finalize the rule sooner rather than later. “The cost of inaction is high,” Knudsen told The Post, citing projections that a ban on menthol cigarettes would save up to 650,000 lives during the next four decades.

Many of the lives saved would be Black lives, federal data show. More than 18.5 million people in the United States smoked menthol cigarettes in 2019. Among smokers who are Black, 81 percent choose menthols, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also pursuing a ban on flavored cigars and new limits on nicotine in cigarettes, although the process of finalizing those rules is to be delayed until at least March as well, The Post reported.

Meanwhile, R.J. Reynolds, which makes the nation’s top-selling menthol brand, said in a statement that a ban would harm small businesses, cut tax revenue, and create a dangerous black market, The Post reported. “A ban on menthol flies in the face of proven science and is contrary to the FDA’s stated goal of reducing the health effects of tobacco use,” the statement said.

The Washington Post Article

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