In Washington Post, NACS Argues Against Menthol Ban

Prohibitions lead to illicit sales, which are untaxed and unregulated.

January 25, 2024

The Washington Post yesterday published an opinion from Henry Armour, president and chief executive of NACS, on the federal menthol ban

In his letter, Armour rebutted an earlier editorial that appeared in the paper, stating “I recognize the surface appeal of a ban on menthol cigarettes urged by the Jan. 20 editorial. Unfortunately, such a ban would be bad policy and would not improve people’s health, as the editorial suggested.” 

Armour argued that “Prohibitions on alcohol, marijuana and other addictive products have shown that simply banning such products does not get rid of them or help the people who use them.” 

Instead, bans drive sales underground and lead to illicit markets, leading to more sales of unregulated products. Additionally, sellers of illegal products don’t worry about verifying age the way that legal distributors, including convenience stores, do.  

Armour pointed to the menthol cigarette ban in California as an example. Research shows that menthol cigarettes make up the same proportion of cigarette sales in the state as they did before the ban—the difference is the menthol cigarettes are now sold through an illicit market rather than regulated businesses. 

Armour finished his letter by stating, “Wishing away things that are bad for us by simply declaring them illegal just isn’t a sound plan. That isn’t politics. It is just reality. The current administration would do well to recognize the complexity of these issues rather than reaching for this simple and ineffective answer.”