President Joe Biden plans to ban menthol cigarettes despite concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that it would fuel racial injustice.
The ACLU warned Biden the ban would have “serious racial justice implications” for people of color and more “negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
“Banning menthol cigarettes risks massive setbacks to our criminal justice system at precisely the moment we should be advancing reform,” the letter obtained by CBS News read.
But some public health organizations support banning menthol cigarettes because they are targeted at black smokers.
“For generations, tobacco companies have promoted menthol cigarettes to the African American community, preying especially on African American youth. The results are clear and grim,” said American Medical President Susan R. Bailey, MD said in a statement supporting the ban.
Over 20 million Americans smoke menthol cigarettes, according to the Food and Drug Administration, but a ban would not go into effect immediately.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Biden administration was also considering a requirement for all tobacco companies to lower the amount of nicotine in all cigarettes.
The White House has declined to comment on the record about their plans for new cigarette regulations.
“We will review a range of policy options in line with the President’s public health goals,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.