Today, FreedomWorks Foundation submitted a comment opposing the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes. More than 600 activists also filed comments in opposition.
Imposing an outright ban on a popular category of cigarettes will do little to promote public health and result in a cascade of unintended consequences: loss of taxpayer revenue, harm to small businesses, a robust black market, and consequent criminalization of consumers who, up until now, were using a legal product.
- Menthol cigarettes comprise more than a third of the tobacco market. Smokers who opt for menthol cigarettes will not suddenly quit smoking–or even quit smoking menthols–when the ban takes effect.
- Instead, smokers who prefer menthol will likely turn to black-market cigarettes, which are often manufactured in less-than-pristine conditions in countries without an FDA–or conscientious manufacturer–to ensure high manufacturing standards.
- The FDA would condemn one-third of smokers–and three-fourths of African American smokers–to these unregulated, ultra-hazardous products. It’s hard to understand how that is “appropriate for the protection of public health.”
- Taxpayers would also suffer: the Tax Foundation estimates lost excise taxes of $6.6 billion in the first year alone. Much of that money would instead go to black marketeers–or to whatever terrorist group they support..
- The menthol ban will decimate small businesses, who rely on cigarette sales to keep their businesses afloat in the Biden era of escalating inflation and ridiculously-high gas prices.
Cigarette smoking continues to decline. Government’s resources should be focused on keeping cigarettes away from kids, facilitating the development of less-risky tobacco products, and ensuring the availability of smoking cessation products for smokers who want to quit. The FDA should focus on these tasks and stay out of the cigarette-banning business.