Biden’s letting election-year politics hold back the menthol ban

By Dr. Lyndon Haviland

March 14, 2024

[I]t came to light last month that Robert Califf, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, had privately urged fellow public health professionals to pressure the White House to make good on its 2021 pledge to ban menthol cigarettes.  

Califf likely didn’t intend for those conversations to end up in Politico. But the fact he encouraged his network to lobby President Biden to honor that 2021 commitment reveals the FDA is at odds with its own administration’s attempts to stall implementation of the years-old Biden-proposed regulation.    

Why has the Biden administration dragged its feet on this important public health initiative? Because a vast majority of Black smokers use menthols, and in an election year, when every vote matters, President Biden can ill-afford to alienate any potential constituency.  …

Last year, the Biden administration twice delayed its 2021 decision to ban menthols and kicked the can to this March for implementation. March is now here, so the question is: Will the Biden White House continue to value tobacco company profits over the health of thousands of Black Americans?