Viewpoint: Prohibition on menthol cigs won’t work
In 2020, when Montana legalized cannabis freedom with 57% of the vote, it was a striking repudiation of prohibition and war on drug policies that, regardless of the product, have failed to reduce use and harm while fueling criminalization.
Unfortunately, it seems like the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is intent on repeating the mistakes of the past through the implementation of a ban on menthol cigarettes. To be clear, fair regulations that prioritize public health and reduce tobacco consumption are important. What doesn’t make sense is the indiscriminate ban of one class of cigarettes while other tobacco products remain free for sale.
History has shown that prohibitions often result in the creation of unregulated black markets, leading to an increase in criminal activity, the over criminalization of population segments that are already over policed - while also undermining public health objectives. A more comprehensive approach, focusing on education, harm reduction, and targeted regulations, would be more effective in achieving the desired outcomes.
A ban on menthol cigarettes would also have adverse effects on small businesses throughout the state that already abide by and enforce existing tobacco regulations. Banning menthol cigarettes could disproportionately affect small businesses, potentially leading to financial hardships and even closures.
The FDA should reconsider their proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and instead focus on evidence-based policies that balance public health concerns with the preservation of small businesses and the prevention of unintended consequences.