The Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington D.C., hosted a “Menthol Melee,” proposing alternatives to the Food and Drug Administration’s pending bans on flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes.
The event featured Gwenn Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of police over untaxed cigarettes, as well as nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement officers who believe the proposed policy will erode community trust in places where officers patrol the streets.
“We are hosting the Menthol Melee to hear from various community activists, law enforcement officers, and research experts who understand far too well how ill-fated a ban on these flavored tobacco products would be,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.
“While a ban is well-intended, to stop a generation of people from smoking, it will almost certainly have a disproportionate impact on minority communities due to increased police enforcement and will take away police officers’ time from pursuing actual crimes. It will also create a new illicit market that will give incentives to criminals to traffic on our streets, making communities less safe than before,” said Ossowski.
“Added to this, the FDA has done nothing to offer real alternatives that could help stop smoking today, including vaping devices, nicotine pouches, gums, lozenges, and more,” said Ossowski.
“If the FDA is serious about reducing smoking in our country, then the answer must be on harm reduction in all aspects, rather than ratcheting up bans and restrictions that will cause more harm,” concluded Ossowski.
A full list of all the speakers, as well as the full video, is available on consumerchoicecenter.org.