A majority of voters in Pennsylvania oppose a federal ban on menthol cigarettes, according to a poll conducted last month, making it the latest battleground state to oppose President Joe Biden’s controversial proposal.
According to an Echelon Insights poll obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, 52 percent of Pennsylvania voters say menthol cigarettes should remain legal. A majority of women, Hispanics, and independent voters oppose the ban, which Biden proposed in April 2021 to "address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations and LGBTQ+ individuals."
The poll suggests any ban on menthols could further erode Biden’s standing in the Keystone State, where the president has just a 39 percent approval rating. Forty-seven percent of Biden voters oppose the ban, while 39 percent support it. Democrats oppose the ban by a 44-37 margin. Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor, has called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban the cigarettes. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate nominee, has not weighed in on the issue, though he does support a soda tax that is also unpopular with voters.
The poll, which surveyed 603 registered voters in early July, mirrors similar findings in Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada. A majority of voters in those states oppose the menthol ban, according to an April Echelon poll.
Progressive groups have opposed the ban, arguing that it will have unintended consequences for minorities, who tend to prefer menthols over traditional cigarettes. Eighty-five percent of black smokers prefer menthols over other cigarettes, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The American Civil Liberties Union said Biden’s proposal was a "policy disaster waiting to happen" and would "disproportionately impact communities of color, result in criminalization of the market, and exacerbate mass incarceration."
Violent crime remains a far more important issue to voters than the proposed menthol ban, according to polling. Ninety-five percent of respondents in the Echelon poll say other issues are more important than the ban. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city, 70 percent of residents say crime and public safety are the most pressing issues. Just 36 percent of residents there support a ban on menthols, versus 49 percent who want to keep them legal.