Biden’s Menthol Cigarette Ban Proposal Could Impact 2024 Election

( – For years, anti-smoking campaigners have been demanding a ban on menthol cigarettes. The flavored tobacco is very popular among black Americans, and activists believe prohibiting it would reduce health differences. Now, the Biden administration is close to bringing in a ban. However, there’s a potential conflict between tobacco control and President Biden’s hopes for re-election.

Pressure For Menthol Ban

Anti-smoking activists have had menthol cigarettes in their sights for years. The arguments against them have evolved over time but have now settled on claims that they disproportionately harm black Americans. This is based on the fact that while most white smokers favor regular cigarettes, around 85% of cigarettes bought by black smokers are menthols. In fact, black Americans are less likely to smoke than whites, but that hasn’t stopped campaigners from claiming that the minty smokes are responsible for higher disease rates and lower life expectancy among ethnic minorities. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded to this last April by proposing a ban but missed an August deadline to impose it. Now, it’s finally ready to go ahead and has sent its final proposals to the Biden administration. With White House clearance, the FDA could release new regulations banning menthols within weeks.

Axing Menthols Could Cost Votes

Banning the popular flavored cigarettes isn’t necessarily a win for the White House, though. With little over a year to go until the next election, President Biden will be watching the polls anxiously –- and right now they don’t look encouraging. Repeated surveys show Biden neck and neck with former president Donald Trump or even trailing slightly; anything that could cost him more votes is going to be controversial. To make matters worse, a menthol ban could attract opposition from both the left and right.

Several conservatives, including Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), are worried that harsh anti-smoking policies could just create a huge black market –- and a new revenue stream for Mexican drug cartels. It’s not hard to imagine criminal gangs stepping in to supply something that’s now illegal; after all, we don’t just have the example of Prohibition to remind us; when Massachusetts banned menthols in 2021, seizures of contraband cigarettes more than trebled.

At the same time, some civil rights activists worry that menthols’ popularity among black Americans means a ban could have a disproportionate impact on them. They don’t think the dubious health benefits (after all, black smokers could simply switch to regular cigarettes instead of quitting) outweigh the risk of “over-policing.” The administration will probably go ahead with the ban anyway, but it could have consequences at the ballot box.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

Copyright 2023,