Biden Admin Delays Menthol Ban Amid Political Pressure: Report

Menthol Cigarettes (Getty Images)
December 6, 2023

The Biden administration will reportedly delay its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes amid mounting political pressure against it.

The administration is expected to announced its regulatory agenda Wednesday, which will include a plan to finalize federal rules in March to take menthol cigarettes off the market, but the ban could face a further delay due to pressure during an election year, the Washington Post reported, citing three anonymous officials.

Critics pushing to delay the ban have argued that it will disproportionately affect black communities, which could anger black voters who use the products, hurting President Joe Biden's reelection chances, according to the Post.

The Biden administration announced its plans to ban menthol cigarettes in April 2021. The FDA then proposed the rules a year later and had originally planned to finalize them in August of this year, though the administration later hinted that it would finalize them in January 2024. The plan to wait until March is not binding, however, and the administration could hand the final rule down sooner. One official noted to the Post that waiting to finalize the rules could make it easier for a Republican successor to reverse them.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last year that opponents of the ban warned it would disproportionately impact black people and put them at risk of arrest for using the products. Those critics have included the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union, which warned in 2021 of "serious racial justice implications" of the proposed rule.

There is evidence that voters in at least one swing state disapprove of the proposed ban. An August 2022 poll found that 52 percent of voters in Pennsylvania were against it. Recent polls have shown former president Donald Trump beating Biden in Pennsylvania.

Published under: Biden Administration