(NewsReady.com) – President Joe Biden’s administration has been working since 2021 to ban menthol cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the plan last year, and it was set to take effect in the coming weeks. After a lobbying blitz, the administration has decided to delay the ban.
On November 6, administration officials indicated they were continuing to review a sweeping plan to ban menthols. Originally, there was an expectation that the FDA would release the rule in late 2023 or January 2024. Now, that could drag on until March.
The ban has faced fierce pushback from the tobacco industry, civil rights groups, conservatives, and others. An estimated 85% of black smokers purchase menthol cigarettes. That led people like Rev. Al Sharpton to warn the Biden administration that the prohibition could lead to more negative interactions between black and brown people and the police. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, a black man who was choked to death by police after selling loose cigarettes in New York, asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to oppose the ban. She, too, believes it will lead to more strained interactions between people of color and the police.
The White House has now agreed to hold meetings with dozens of groups that oppose the rule, including police and business owners. Over 60 such meetings are scheduled with the Office of Management and Budget in the coming weeks.
Anti-smoking advocates are not happy about the change. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids CEO Yolanda Richardson told The Associated Press that her group is urging the president’s administration to “issue the final rule by the end of the year.” She said that not going along with the original plan will “be a gift to the tobacco industry at the expense of Black lives.”
The meetings with the administration stretch into January, and only three of them have been with health groups.
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