(WatchDogReport.org) – President Joe Biden’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has kicked off its plan to ban menthol cigarettes, a move that’s garnered support from various public health organizations. Menthol cigarettes are widely considered to be more addictive than regular ones. Some are criticizing the ban as hypocritical, considering Biden’s broader initiatives, including safe crack pipe distribution and marijuana reform.
Tobacco companies are pushing back, contending that there’s no solid evidence linking menthol cigarettes to the initiation of smoking or an increase in cigarette addiction. African American leaders, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and similar groups have also expressed concerns that a menthol ban may result in more policing in black communities.
Simultaneously, President Biden’s administration has created controversy by expanding access to drug paraphernalia and creating safe spaces for illicit drug use. For the fiscal year 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced a $30 million grant program to financially support nonprofits and local governments in enhancing the safety of drug use for addicts. These grants include the distribution of pipes for the consumption of crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and other illicit substances.
Additionally, a $5 million grant awarded to New York University and Brown University supported research into the effectiveness of “safe injection sites” to prevent overdoses. These sites would serve as designated areas where drug users can safely consume heroin and other illegal substances and receive assistance if they overdose.
Biden’s administration has also made a way to pardon individuals convicted of federal marijuana possession charges, encouraging state governors to do the same and reviewing marijuana’s scheduling under federal law.
Jeffrey Singer, a senior associate at the CATO Institute, voiced reservations regarding the potential outcomes of the proposed menthol cigarette prohibition. He believes that it could lead to the growth of a black market for cigarettes. According to Singer, menthol-flavored cigarettes were favored by 81 percent of Black smokers and 51 percent of Hispanic smokers. He pointed out several studies suggesting that menthol cigarettes may be less harmful than non-menthol ones and that most teenage smokers prefer non-menthol cigarettes.
While the FDA is pushing forward with the menthol cigarette ban, it is simultaneously advancing policies that expand access to drug paraphernalia and safe spaces for drug use. These actions have sparked controversy and concerns about unintended consequences, including the growth of black market products and increased criminal justice disparities.
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