The White Home is “conscious” of issues that the Biden administration’s proposed menthol cigarettes ban might unfairly goal Black individuals, principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated on Thursday.
Jean-Pierre was requested concerning the menthol ban throughout a press gaggle on Thursday. Rev. Al Sharpton has beforehand stated such bans are unfair for Black people who smoke.
“We’re conscious of that, and we take that significantly the issues which were raised about discriminatory coverage, policing, and so addressing racial bias in policing is a precedence,” Jean-Pierre stated.
“This is the reason we strongly assist the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and we’d like laws to instantly deal with police reform, at the same time as we regulate tobacco business practices that hurt People,” she continued.
The Meals and Drug Administration moved to ban menthol cigarettes and different flavored tobacco merchandise on Thursday in a call that Well being and Human Providers Secretary Xavier Becerra stated displays the Biden administration’s “dedication to enhance the well being of all People and to deal with well being disparities in our most marginalized communities.”
Jean-Pierre emphasised that such FDA regulation wouldn’t end in enforcement on people.
“With menthol, it is a public well being resolution that will assist curb dependancy and save lives,” she stated on Thursday. “However let’s be clear right here. If applied, these guidelines have an effect on solely business exercise. So FDA doesn’t regulate the possession of tobacco merchandise by people for private use, and this rule wouldn’t make particular person shopper possession or use of menthol cigarettes a criminal offense nor change enforcement requirements.”
The ACLU stated a ban would “disproportionately affect individuals of shade.”
In a letter despatched to Becerra and different officers, the ACLU together with dozens of others, together with the Drug Coverage Alliance, stated whereas such a ban is “little doubt well-intentioned,” it could have “severe racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will set off felony penalties, which can disproportionately affect individuals of shade, in addition to prioritize criminalization over public well being and hurt discount,” the letter said. “A ban can even result in unconstitutional policing and different damaging interactions with native legislation enforcement.”
The letter referenced the current police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant and Eric Garner.
“A variety of police encounters leading to tragic deaths are linked to police enforcement of tobacco legal guidelines: Eric Garner, killed by a police chokehold, was illegally promoting ‘loosie’ cigarettes, and Michael Brown was killed after being suspected of stealing a field of cigarillos,” the letter said. “Even within the case of George Floyd, police have been known as to research a counterfeit invoice used to buy cigarettes.”
The letter known as for an strategy that will “keep away from options that can create but one more reason for armed police to interact residents on the road based mostly on the pretext or conduct that doesn’t pose a menace to public security.”
Fox Information’ Alexandra Hein contributed to this report.