President Biden’s administration is expected to announce this week a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes in a move that will leave many Americans without their preferred flavor.
The new policy would disproportionately impact black smokers. Menthol cigarettes are used by more than three-fourths of African-Americans who smoke. About a quarter of white smokers prefer menthol rather than unflavored cigarettes.
Anonymous Biden administration officials confirmed the timing of the announcement to the Washington Post.
Leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus have pushed the idea. Then-caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) wrote in an op-ed last year: “As we continue to push to protect Black lives, we must put an end to one of the most pernicious destroyers of Black health and lives: deadly menthol cigarettes.”
It’s unclear how long menthol users would have to brace for the transition. Other recent reports indicated that the administration is exploring a separate policy that would require tobacco companies to lower the nicotine content