Earlier this week, Black leaders held a virtual press conference to voice concerns over the federal government’s efforts to ban menthol nationwide.
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. president & CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association said this ban “is going to have a disproportionate, negative impact on Black and brown communities in America.”
“We oppose any form of racial targeting, racial profiling, and discrimination,” he added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans in April 2021 to ban menthol cigarettes. The administration plans to introduce final rules on the ban this month.
Some oppose a nationwide ban on menthol and believe it will place Black and brown Americans at risk of being wrongfully targeted by law enforcement, like what happened in the case of 43-year-old Eric Garner.
In 2014, a Staten Island police officer killed Garner while placing him in a chokehold during an arrest for illegally selling cigarettes.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, attended the virtual discussion and shared her thoughts opposing the ban.
“Even though the medical profession says that it’s not going to be a policing issue, they’ll [Law Enforcement] be the ones imposing the consequences [of a menthol ban],” she said.
“This [ban] is not the answer. We have to do other things; we have to educate, counsel, treat. Stop the ban — it’s not the answer,” she added.
Dr. Rahn Bailey, former president of the National Medical Association, stated, “The laws we call ‘well intentioned,’ these little unintended consequences can be so averse to certain communities.”
“Rather we should use education, training, and advocacy, we try to use a legal consortium that very often is averse, non-productive, and problematic for people who are marginalized and least likely to defend themselves,” she continued.
Dr. Winston Price, former president of the National Medical Association stated that a ban is not what is needed, but instead, “We need a diverse, racially mixed leadership at FDA and at HDHS to address these problems with our communities in need.”
Chavis stated, “There is no reason to rush this ban,” and he compared efforts.
“It’s interesting, while on one hand they approve marijuana, they want to ban menthol cigarettes; I think it’s contradictory,” he said.
To date, at least 10 states including Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland and New York have introduced legislation to ban nicotine products.
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