Conservative advocacy group Building Americas Future is making a substantial six-figure ad buy across key swing states and congressional districts for the 2024 elections, aiming to push back against the Biden administration’s proposed menthol cigarette ban. Here’s the full story.
Millions of Dollars in State Revenue at Risk
According to Building Americas Future, the FDA’s actions to restrict menthol cigarette sales are poised to put hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue at risk across the nation.
A Tax Foundation analysis from 2022 revealed that these restrictions would cost the federal government approximately $1.9 billion, while state governments could lose a total of $4.7 billion, given the high tax rates on cigarettes.
Prohibition Fuels an Underground Market
Jeffrey Singer, a senior fellow at the Free Market Cato Institute, wrote “Prohibition fuels an underground market where peaceful, voluntary transactions become crimes.
It gives law enforcement another reason to interact with non-violent people who commit these victimless crimes. With menthol cigarettes more popular among Blacks and Hispanics, expect police to focus their attention on minority communities.”
The Ad Campaign
The ad buy specifically targets key areas in swing states and congressional districts, including New Hampshire, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis from the previous year, swing states such as Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio could experience revenue declines estimated at $123 million, $219 million, $165 million, and $227 million, respectively.
The Current Tax
The average pack of cigarettes in the U.S. is subject to $1.91 in state taxes and $1.01 in federal taxes.
In addition, every state continues to receive funds from the Master Settlement Agreement, a 1998 settlement between the states and the nation’s four largest tobacco companies.
This settlement equates to approximately $0.75 per pack in 2022.
The Reason for the Ban
The FDA issued product standards in April 2022 to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibited all characterizing flavors other than tobacco in cigars.
Reduce Disease and Death
The FDA argues that these measures will help reduce the disease and death caused by tobacco product use by reducing youth experimentation and addiction and increasing the number of smokers who quit.
Prevent Children From Becoming Smokers
Proponents say that these rules aim to prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and support adult smokers in quitting, sharing that they represent an important step towards health equity by reducing tobacco-related health disparities.
Leading Cause of Preventable Death
Despite these efforts, menthol cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death nationwide, according to the FDA.
Menthol Cigarette Ban
Last month, the FDA sent the proposed regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review, marking the final step before implementing the menthol cigarette ban.
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “Good move! When I was like 18 in college we would party and people smoke and they light you up on your chest and I was never stuck on it! But you know it’s a killer.”
Just a Waste of Money
Another user added, “Wow, I’m a Republican, and that’s just a waste of money. You have to know when to pick a fight.
Everyone knows by now that Menthol cigarettes are the worst of them all, more carcinogens and especially chemicals than most. So, banning them is not the end of the world.”
Government Is Becoming Big Brother
A third user commented, “I don’t think it’s about cigarettes. I think the issue is that the government is really becoming a big brother and telling you what you can and cannot have.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Marc Bruxelle. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.