The Biden administration is expected to propose a ban on menthol cigarettes this week as civil rights activists argue the flavored-tobacco cigarettes disproportionately hurt black Americans.
The administration will also seek to ban flavored cigars and other flavored tobacco products. However, it could take years for the ban to go into effect.
“There is not an open question on whether menthol in cigarettes is harmful – the evidence is overwhelming and consistent,” said Joelle Lester, director of commercial tobacco control programs at the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, according to The Washington Post.
Some groups argue menthol cigarettes disproportionately target black Americans. In a recent letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, 10 civil rights organizations urged the federal government to ban such tobacco products.
“The predatory marketing of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products must be stopped and we should all recognize this as a social justice issue, and one that disproportionately impacts youth and communities of color,” the letter reads.