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America’s Perverse Tobacco Policy

The United States is aiming to adopt a range of measures to reduce tobacco related harm: banning menthol cigarettes, reducing nicotine content, and harsher taxes for vape products

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The United States is aiming to adopt a range of measures to reduce tobacco related harm: banning menthol cigarettes, reducing nicotine content, and harsher taxes for vape products. It’s an illogical approach that ignores the huge success vaping has had in the United Kingdom at reducing smoking rates.

Menthol cigarettes make up for one third of the market and are predominantly used by poorer Black Americans. Writing for The Hill (1), Guy Bentley says that banning them, “will most likely contribute to overcriminalization in Black communities already struggling to determine the role that policing should play in their neighbourhoods.”

He cites the American Civil Liberties Union saying that this measure prioritises criminalisation over common sense harm reduction and the public health.

The FDA’s Mitch Zeller contends: “For far too long, certain populations, including African Americans, have been targeted, and disproportionately impacted by tobacco use. Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made in getting people to stop smoking over the past 55 years, that progress hasn’t been experienced by everyone equally.

These flavour standards would reduce cigarette and cigar initiation and use, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity by addressing a significant and disparate source of harm. Taken together, these policies will help save lives and improve the public health of our country as we confront the leading cause of preventable disease and death.”

The shift in focus has come about due to a number of Black lawmakers supporting a ban. Rep. Joyce Beatty and Rep. Karen Bass being the driving force to have it enacted.

At the same time, The Wall Street Journal, is reporting a plan to reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes, as it "would lower the chemical in cigarettes to nonaddictive or minimally addictive levels, aiming to push millions of smokers to either quit or switch to less harmful alternatives such as nicotine gums, lozenges, or e-cigarettes."

These measures are nonsensical,” says Reason’s Veronique De Rugy (3).

Not banning tobacco products outright may have encouraged smokers to make a switch to vaping, the USA is closing that door too. It has implemented a ban on flavours in pods and now, through the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021, plans to close “loopholes” in the tax code – which means a cash grab on vape products in plain English.

By doing so, the government will close a door by making vaping a less attractive alternative. Perpetual idiot Dick Durbin commented: “This bill would help reduce tobacco and e-cigarette use by ending loopholes that the industry has exploited to target our children. If America can kick its nicotine addiction it would go a long way to improving our public health for generations to come.

At some point, the USA will come to realise the huge mistake it is making, but this doesn’t look as though it will be happening any time soon.,


  1. FDA ban on menthol cigarettes: Bad for criminal justice, health policy -
  2. FDA Commits to Evidence-Based Actions Aimed at Saving Lives and Preventing Future Generations of Smokers -
  3. The FDA Wants To Lower Nicotine in All Cigarettes -

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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