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Biden Gets Pushback Over Potentially Racist Policy

As the Biden administration approaches a decision to impliment a ban on menthol cigarrettes, he’s facing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats who claim that the proposal from the FDA is both racist, funds terrorism, and makes our southern border even more dangerous. 

An estimated 85 percent of Black smokers use menthols, according to the FDA, compared with 30 percent of white smokers.

From The Washington Examiner:

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release its decision as early as this week on whether it will implement a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, following through with a proposal that was first floated by the agency in spring 2021. Lawmakers and advocacy groups alike have criticized the proposal, arguing it would lead to an increase in illicit sales as well as inconsistent enforcement, according to The Washington Examiner.

“Banning products does not curb consumer demand, but rather fuels illicit markets. Products made and sold without FDA oversight are much more likely to contain dangerous additives,” a group of more than 60 criminal justice and drug reform groups wrote in a letter to Biden on Tuesday. “The current fentanyl crisis is a perfect example of how an underground market puts the public in danger.”

Republicans have long pushed back against the proposed ban, with a handful of Democratic lawmakers also coming out in opposition as the FDA nears its decision. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) joined Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) in a letter sent to the FDA, urging the agency to reverse course.

“It is well-documented that Hezbollah is a leader in the illicit cigarette trade — not halfway around the world but right here in the Western Hemisphere. There have been cases in which Hezbollah and Hamas cells have smuggled cigarettes into the United States to send the revenue overseas,” the two wrote. “It would be concerning to move forward with this rule without considering the potential for foreign terrorist and criminal organizations, such as Hezbollah or Hamas, to generate revenue and fuel their operations in the wake of a ban on menthol cigarettes.”

Data from the National Association of Convenience Stores reveals that cigarettes contribute to almost 34 percent of all sales in convenience stores and over 10 percent of those stores’ gross margins. 

The menthols ban would also empower cartels, making the southern border even more dangers, writes New Conservative Post.

 “Our southern border is in crisis mode, providing illicit opportunities for transnational organizations, i.e., criminal cartels, to exploit their violent and criminal enterprises for greed,” stated Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County, Arizona.

Dannels, also the chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Border Security Committee, told Secrets that making “a product in the United States illegal to possess redirects the problem to criminal behavior.”

Native Americans have also called for the decision to be stopped, pointing to the potential rise in crime and danger of black-market products entering their communities. The Coalition of Large Tribes, an group representing over 50 tribes released a statement, saying, “As with other forms of prohibition, unregulated supply chains will take over once legal pathways to adult consumers are closed off. Banning the legal sale of menthol and nicotine-containing cigarettes will cede control of the market to illicit producers.”

The statement continued, “Tribes are painfully aware from our experience with the fentanyl crisis that criminal interests in China, the Middle East and Mexico already use various channels to traffic drugs through and concentrate drugs on our reservations, where the jurisdictional maze and chronic underfunding of tribal law enforcement leaves a persistent gaps for public safety. The Rules will strain already overburdened tribal law enforcement.

“We are very concerned that illicit markets borne from the FDA’s forthcoming Rules — Native American smokers who obtained such products will have no idea what foreign illicit cigarettes might be laced with — just like certain foreign drugs today are routinely laced with fentanyl,” said OJ Semans, COLT Executive Director. “As a career tribal police officer, I can tell you that the risks of FDA’s prohibitions on menthol and nicotine are huge for Indian Country.”

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