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Biden administration indefinitely delays rule that would have banned menthol cigarettes – NBC Chicago

For the second time in recent months, President Joe Biden’s administration has delayed a sweeping plan to ban menthol cigarettes, a move that is sure to infuriate anti-tobacco advocates but could prevent further harm. anger black voters before the November elections.

In a statement Friday, Biden’s top health official gave no time frame for adoption of the rule, saying only that the administration would take more time to review comments, including those from advocacy groups civil rights.

“It is clear that there are still more conversations to be had, and it will take much longer,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The White House has held dozens of meetings in recent months with groups opposed to the ban, including civil rights organizers, law enforcement officials and small business owners.

The announcement is another setback for health officials at the Food and Drug Administration, who wrote the ban and predicted it would prevent hundreds of thousands of smoking-related deaths over 40 years. The agency has been working to ban menthol in multiple jurisdictions for more than a decade without ever finalizing a rule.

Previous FDA efforts on menthol have been thwarted by tobacco industry pushback or competing political priorities. As Biden and former President Donald Trump vie for support from Black voters, the decision’s potential impact has been scrutinized by Republicans and Democrats in the run-up to the November election.

Tobacco control advocates have pushed the FDA to eliminate this flavor since the agency gained the authority to regulate certain tobacco ingredients in 2009. Menthol is the only cigarette flavor that has not been banned by this law , an exclusion negotiated by industry allies in Congress. But the law charged the FDA with studying the issue.

More than 11% of American adults smoke, with rates about the same between whites and blacks. But about 80 percent of black smokers smoke menthol, which the FDA says masks the harshness of smoking, making it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. Most teenagers who smoke cigarettes also smoke menthols.

NBC Chicago

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