Rev. El Sharpton, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, and relatives of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in 2020, have argued that the rules, if enacted, would give law enforcement another reason to attack Black Men. dangers to the lives of blacks.
“We said, ‘You have to consider the unintended consequences.’ Imagine a police officer pulling up a child and saying, “Where did you buy or get this Kool cigarette?”, ”Sharpton told POLITICO on Thursday after the FDA report. “People aren’t going to quit smoking Newports and Kools because of the rule. They are going to go and get them from people who go out on the black market. Then what happens? That’s all I’m asking for. “
Members of the Black Caucus Congress were divided, but an aide to the group said the push from civil rights leaders in recent weeks “has made members think more about possible unintended consequences”.
“The proposed ban could also have serious economic and criminal consequences for communities across the country,” he said. Donald McIchin (D-Va.), The statement said. This will “disproportionately affect African Americans and low-income communities, while tobacco products commonly used by predominantly white or more affluent populations are not controlled.” McIchin voted against legislation banning menthol cigarettes.
But the CBC has long had no opinion on the sale of menthol cigarettes, and many members hastened to praise the Biden administration’s efforts.
“I saw in my own family and in my own life felt the effects of the tobacco industry, especially aimed at the black community in America,” – the rapper. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) Said in a statement. “It’s time to ban these addictive menthol cigarettes.”
The FDA intends to hold an audition session in June to discuss many of these issues.
Menthol cigarettes, which are characterized by a mint flavor that hides the pungent taste of tobacco and allows you to inhale more deeply, more than a third of all cigarette sales in 2018, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. More than eight out of 10 black smokers use menthol cigarettes, in part because of targeted advertising and promotions from tobacco companies.
As a result, these people have more health consequences from smoking than members of other races and ethnic groups. A 2021 study found that although black Americans make up 12 percent of the population, they suffered 41 percent of all deaths and 50 percent of lost years of life due to menthol cigarettes between 1980 and 2018.
In a statement, NAACP President Derrick Johnson praised the administration for the proposed rules. “The effects of menthol have been devastating and fatal to too many black people,” it said. “Big Tobacco is specifically targeted at our communities, and we’re tired of it.”
But concerns about chronic diseases do not displace many more immediate fears of potential law enforcement dispersal that could lead to arrest, jail, or violence.
“The FDA has stated very publicly that it does not intend to criminalize people who simply own menthol products, but they do not understand the connection between law enforcement on the ground and law enforcement intervention,” said Diane Goldstein, chair of the Partnership for Law Enforcement, a nonprofit group. focused on criminal justice and drug policy reforms. LEAP has received funding from RJ Reynolds, a company that makes Newport menthol cigarettes, but says it does so because it is a nonprofit group and that donations do not affect political positions.
Health experts fear that if the ban is lifted, tobacco companies will reap real benefits.
“Combining police violence with public health measures such as menthol removal seems to confuse all the water,” said Philip Gardiner, co-chair of the African Tobacco Control Council. “The biggest impact on the lives of blacks and saving the lives of blacks is getting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars straight from the black community.”
His group is one of more than a dozen that asked the FDA ban menthol cigarettes in 2013 to protect black lives. The group filed a lawsuit against the FDA in 2020, saying it had not taken significant action against menthol. Last November, a judge decided to adjourn the case until June on the grounds that the FDA would issue those rules earlier.
Gardiner argues that FDA action should be backed by additional tools to help black smokers quit.
However, many fear that supporters of this ban attach too much weight to one type of danger and not enough to another.
“I’ve been a civil rights lawyer for over 25 years, but I’ve been Black all my life,” said Trump, a civil rights lawyer. “There is a difference between theory and reality. The reality is that we know that if you make laws, then you have local and state actors who use them as weapons to marginalize black people. ”