A source inside the Biden administration on Wednesday said the White House is planning to unveil a proposal that would ban menthol and other flavored cigarettes.
According to The Washington Post, “civil rights groups” called for the ban because “African Americans have been disproportionately hurt by the industry’s aggressive targeting of Black communities.”
Advocates say a ban is needed because “tobacco use remains a leading source of illness and death in the United States and worldwide, especially among people of color,” even though the number of Americans who smoke has drastically decreased over recent years.
Those who support the ban have made attempts at the state level but have been repeatedly roadblocked. The Biden administration has renewed their hope because of “President Biden’s repeated vows to reduce health disparities made glaringly obvious by the coronavirus pandemic, and efforts by the Black Lives Matter movement to focus on institutionalized racism.”
A group of 10 civil rights and black health organizations, including the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and the NAACP, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling for the ban. According to the coalition, “predatory marketing” is being used to encourage black Americans to smoke menthol and other flavored tobacco products.
It’s no secret that smoking is harmful. It causes an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), as well as early death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.”
But the Biden administration’s proposed ban on flavored cigarettes, brings up a bigger question: isn’t this kind of targeting racist?
We have a 78-year-old white man who has been in politics for 50 years as president, who instead of giving Americans the power of choice, is going to ban a harmful product because a certain race is more likely to use it. Essentially, this is Biden seeming to say black Americans make terrible choices.
Arguably, one of America’s greatest attributes is the fact that we have the power of choice. We are given the free will to choose what we consume, how we consume it, and why we consume it. Yes, the government has stepped in and regulated goods and products they deemed harmful, like alcohol during Prohibition and, more recently, marijuana.
What makes the Biden administration’s ban on flavored cigarettes different is its selectiveness. If the administration moved to ban cigarettes as a whole, they could claim it’s because of public health concerns. An across-the-board ban would take every single type of cigarette and, theoretically, every tobacco product, off the market. That would impact every smoker, regardless of their race, creed, religion, or societal status.
Even though cigarettes are harmful to a person’s health, banning flavored cigarettes also takes away accountability. People make the choice – knowing the ramifications – of smoking. Every time they light up a cigarette, whether it’s flavored or not, the smoker takes responsibility for the health repercussions stemming from their decision. The government stepping in and blaming advertising as the reason people choose these products removes accountability and responsibility from the individual consumer.
Doing away with flavored cigarettes because people of color use them goes against the very policies the Biden administration claims to champion. If the White House wanted to champion minorities, they would have faith in the American people to make educated, informed decisions, even if the end result runs counter to their personal beliefs.
Beth Baumann is a Political Reporter and Editor at The Daily Wire. Follow her on Twitter @eb454.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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