How Biden’s Menthol Ban Endangers Black Bodies

President Joe Biden’s ban on menthol cigarettes will put black communities at risk of more violent interactions with police, according to myriad experts ranging from former law enforcement to left-wing constitutional attorneys.

The Biden administration has made no secret of the fact that targeting menthol cigarettes is meant to change the behavior of the black community, alleging that a ban will help reduce racial disparities in the health care system. Criminalizing black people’s behavior, according to the Biden administration, is the best course of action.

“Black smokers prefer menthol products, and the Biden administration’s decision to ban menthol cigarettes will inevitably fuel an already well-established, lucrative, and violent illicit market,” Richard Marianos, a former senior official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, told the Washington Free Beacon.  “This will criminalize the behavior of Black communities and lead to more interactions with law enforcement, not less.”

Data support Marianos’s assertion. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that nearly 85 percent of black smokers prefer mentholated cigarettes, compared with just under 30 percent of white smokers.

As the Food and Drug Administration moves forward with its policy to outlaw menthols, Biden this week released an outline of his executive order to “advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices.” The menthol ban stands in direct contradiction of the new policy, which has a stated goal of stamping out “systemic racism in our criminal justice system and in our institutions more broadly.”

“Why in this nation, why [do] so many black Americans wake up knowing they could lose their life in the course of just living their life today?” Biden said at a signing ceremony for his executive order. “Simply jogging, shopping, sleeping at home.”

Biden’s move to criminalize menthol cigarettes would violate his goals of eliminating disparate impact—supposedly neutral policies that disproportionately affect minority communities—in law enforcement. His executive order calls for disparate impact studies on the use of force by law enforcement and asserts that “fatal encounters with law enforcement have disproportionately involved Black and Brown people.”

Such disparate impact is why Biden’s menthol ban has earned criticism from left-wing civil liberty activists, such as the American Civil Liberties Union. An attorney for the organization in a letter last year highlighted the irony of such a ban in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd—only a few years removed from the killing of Eric Garner, a Black man killed by NYPD for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes—the racially disparate impact of the criminal legal system has captured the nation’s attention,” the attorney wrote. “It is now clear that such policies that amount to prohibition have serious racial justice implications.”

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Amish organic farmer faces hefty fine, jail time for producing CLEAN MEAT

An Amish organic farmer is facing a hefty fine and a prison term for the simple crime of producing clean meat.

Amos Miller runs a holistically managed farm in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where he breeds cows, chickens and pigs. The animals in his century-old farm are bred without the use of chemicals and medications mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to Miller, he raises his animals in the way he believes God intended them to be raised – in accordance with nature.

However, a federal judge ordered the Amish farmer to cease and desist all sales of his organic meat. This same magistrate also ordered Miller to pay $250,000 for “contempt of court” last summer. He added that the farmer needs to pay an initial $50,000 as a “good faith” payment to avoid jail.

To make matters worse, armed U.S. marshals raided his property, farm store and freezers at the behest of the federal judge. They took an inventory of all his meat to ensure he will no longer be able to sell or slaughter any more animals. (Related: Small town business owner spent 7 years building up organic meat company, only to be shut down by village board.)

Miller, who runs a private members-only food distribution network, alleged that the federal government is prosecuting him for practicing his religious freedom in the way he raises and prepares food. “Our members don’t want any of that. They want fresh, raw meat with no additives. Our members want it straight from the farm with no preservatives on it.”

The members of Miller’s private food club agree, saying they do not like their grass-fed meat laced with chemical preservatives mandated by the USDA. Numbering around 400, they have also signed contracts that state their awareness of the meat not being processed in USDA-inspected plants or treated with preservatives.

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FDA issues long-awaited proposal to ban menthol cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a long-awaited proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, a major victory for anti-smoking advocates but one that could dent sales at tobacco companies.

The proposal, which comes a year after the agency announced the plan, still needs to be finalized and can take years to implement as it is likely to face stiff opposition from the tobacco industry.

“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra

For decades, menthol cigarettes have been in the crosshairs of anti-smoking groups who have argued that they contribute to disproportionate health burdens on Black communities and play a role in luring young people into smoking.

Menthol cigarettes, banned in many states including California and Massachusetts, account for more than a third of the industry’s overall market share in the United States, even as overall smoking rates have been declining in the country.

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The Kids Online Safety Act Is a Heavy-Handed Plan to Force Platforms to Spy on Young People

Putting children under surveillance and limiting their access to information doesn’t make them safer—in fact, research suggests just the opposite. Unfortunately those tactics are the ones endorsed by the Kids Online Safety Act of 2022 (KOSA), introduced by Sens. Blumenthal and Blackburn. The bill deserves credit for attempting to improve online data privacy for young people, and for attempting to update 1998’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). But its plan to require surveillance and censorship of anyone under sixteen would greatly endanger the rights, and safety, of young people online.

KOSA would require the following:

  • A new legal duty for platforms to prevent certain harms: KOSA outlines a wide collection of content that platforms can be sued for if young people encounter it, including “promotion of self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and other matters that pose a risk to physical and mental health of a minor.”
  • Compel platforms to provide data to researchers
  • An elaborate age-verification system, likely run by a third-party provider
  • Parental controls, turned on and set to their highest settings, to block or filter a wide array of content

There are numerous concerns with this plan. The parental controls would in effect require a vast number of online platforms to create systems for parents to spy on—and control—the conversations young people are able to have online, and require those systems be turned on by default. It would also likely result in further tracking of all users.

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