Biden Halts Menthol Ban In Plea To Black Voters

The Biden administration has decided to backtrack on its plan to ban menthol cigarettes. The ban was first proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a means to prevent smoking among young people and reduce disparate health outcomes affecting minority demographics.

The decision comes even though the FDA recently reported it believes a ban on menthol cigarettes could prevent between 300,000 to 650,000 smoking-related deaths over the next few decades. Biden backed down in the face of fierce opposition from various civil rights groups and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the administration weighed these considerations against the potential public health benefits and chose to delay the ban, citing the need for further discussions. This move comes when Biden’s approval ratings continue to suffer overall and even among Black voters that Democrats normally take for granted. Market research shows Black adults are far more likely to use menthol cigarettes than White smokers.

Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra emphasized the wide-ranging public feedback received and noted that he believes there are still more “conversations” necessary. Many see the delay as a strategic delay tactic to avoid alienating Black voters before the upcoming election.

Political figures on the far left, like Al Sharpton, claim a ban will lead to black market sales and increased police interactions — something particularly troubling to progressives anxious to push what they believe Black voters want to hear, whether that is true or not.

The reversal by the Biden administration comes at a critical time, considering the continuing prevalence of smoking among Black Americans. Approximately 14.5% of Black adults in the U.S. were smokers in 2021, with those smokers choosing menthol cigarettes 85% of the time. The administration’s decision to delay the menthol cigarette ban attempts to maintain electoral support among Black voters, who have historically been a reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party. How long that community will continue to go in for Democrat gamesmanship remains to be seen.