The Biden administration plans to ban menthol cigarettes because Black people smoke menthol cigarettes at three times the rate of white people.
The American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights groups warn that a ban on menthol cigarettes will hurt communities of color due to over policing and incarceration of lawbreakers.
“A menthol cigarette ban would disproportionately impact communities of color, result in criminalization of the market, and exacerbate mass incarceration,” the ACLU wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
A recent study showed that 85% of Black people smoke menthol cigarettes. The same study showed only 29% of white people smoke menthol.
According to the CDC, Black people die of tobacco-related illnesses, including cancer and heart disease, at higher rates than whites.
The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration is also considering a ban on flavored small cigars, that are popular with young Black people.
The Biden administration can ban flavored cigarettes and cigars without the approval of Congress.
Studies have shown that menthol cigarettes are more addicting, and the tobacco industry has intentionally targeted the Black community with advertising for decades.