The Biden administration will delay its ban on menthol cigarettes following lobbying from critics, reported the Washington Post. The administration is expected to announce that it plans to finalize the ban in March, but the process could continue to be delayed due to the pressure during an election year, according to anonymous officials. Initially the administration planned to finalize the rules in August 2023, then moved that timeline to January 2024.
Since October, the White House has been reviewing the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Officials state that the rules will not target consumers, but instead, enforcement will focus on manufacturers, distributors and retailers, including convenience stores.
The new target date for finalizing the menthol ban is set to be officially announced in the Biden administration’s regulatory agenda, which will be released today, reported the Post. Officials noted that the agenda is not binding, and the White House could elect to finalize the ban prior to March.
NACS has expressed strong concern about the potential for these proposals in the past because of the likelihood that they would lead to an increase in the illicit market for these products.
“History has proven that prohibition of a legal product that has an established user base doesn’t work and has negative consequences for our communities,” stated Anna Blom, NACS director of government relations.
NACS is encouraging its members to contact the White House urging it to stop both of these bans from moving forward. Menthol cigarettes make up roughly 34% of cigarette sales, and flavored cigars account for 51% of cigar sales. The menthol ban on these popular products would not make them simply disappear. Instead, it would push current users to the illicit market, which will ultimately hurt our communities and negatively impact the businesses operated by responsible retailers.
Use the NACS Grassroots portal to send a message to the White House voicing concerns for your business and the industry at large if the ban were to go into effect. The portal has a text box where you can send a personalized message to the White House, or you can send the prewritten message that NACS has provided.