This week, NACS sent a letter to the White House urging President Biden to reconsider the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The letter expressed NACS concerns regarding the bans, including the growth of the illicit tobacco market, sales of unregulated products and the detrimental impact the loss of the tobacco products will have on small businesses.
Addressing the proposed bans, NACS wrote, “if implemented, they are likely to usher in an array of negative unintended consequences by adding to the already burgeoning illicit tobacco market, moving business away from legitimate companies to unregulated foreign producers, and removing the consumer guardrails put in place by responsible sellers like the convenience store industry.”
Menthol cigarettes account for 34% of cigarettes sales, and flavored cigars account for 51% of cigar sales in convenience stores today. Collectively, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars combined for $23.7 billion in sales last year. Banning these products will drive demand towards the illicit market instead of small businesses like convenience stores. “Sixty percent of American convenience stores are owned and run by single-store operators,” NACS wrote, “who follow age verification laws while collecting federal, state, and local taxes and providing jobs in their communities.”
NACS also emphasized that another consequence of the proposals would be the sale of unregulated tobacco products. Products in the illicit market are often imported from sources outside the United States and lack the quality control and safety standards that FDA-regulated products meet, causing consumers to face the risk of unknowingly exposing themselves to potentially dangerous ingredients.
“Lastly, the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars would have a detrimental impact on small businesses, including approximately 93,250 small operators in the U.S. convenience store industry,” wrote NACS. “If implemented, a single convenience store would lose $72,285 a year in non-tobacco sundry sales, representing close to 4% of inside sales, on top of the $160,107 lost due to the reduction in sales of tobacco products.”
Join NACS in contacting the White House and urging it to stop both of these bans from moving forward.
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 bans 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.
Reach out to the White House today to ensure our industry, businesses and communities are protected from these menthol and flavor bans. You can access the Grassroots portal here.