African American Leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis: FDA’s Menthol Ban Unfairly Puts Black America at Risk


Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., right, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, speaks during a news conference near Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. Chavis joined attorney Benjamin Crump, left, who announced the filing of a class action lawsuit against the United States Government claiming it breached its contract with socially disadvantaged farmers under the American Rescue Plan Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The pending menthol ban proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised serious concerns within the Black community. The ban, expected to be finalized this month, targets menthol cigarettes, which are disproportionately preferred by African Americans.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents more than 200 Black newspapers across the country, spoke out against the proposed ban, highlighting the potential racial profiling implications it could have.

“I don’t think it’s right for Black people to be targeted by the FDA, or any federal agencies. We’re living in a time now, where they are banning books – they’re trying to revise Black history. They’re trying to say that Africans enjoyed and benefited from enslavement, which we know is a lie. I just think that the timing is wrong, it’s out of place. And we should be against all forms of racial profiling. And we should be against all forms of racial targeting,” Dr. Chavis stated in a recent interview with AURN News.

Citing the tragic and sometimes fatal consequences of racial profiling Black people sometimes experience in interactions with law enforcement, Dr. Chavis emphasized the need to be vigilant about public policies and proposals that put African Americans at disproportionate risk.

“I predict that if this FDA ban is put in place it is going to enhance and increase negative, often fatal interactions between the police and Black America. This is unfair, it’s unwarranted. And I think the FDA is off base on the one hand of its science, but on the other hand, it’s off base in terms of the social and racial impact of this ban,” he said.

“What we need to be banning in America is racism. We need to be banning police brutality. We need to be banning inequity and inequality and racial injustice. But they’re choosing to ban menthol cigarettes that are favored by African Americans and other people of color and for that reason, I, on behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, we’re in complete opposition to the proposed menthol ban,” he added.

As the debate continues, important community voices and leaders like Dr. Chavis emphasize the importance of equitable policy-making and understanding the broader social implications of regulatory decisions.

Click play to listen to the AURN News report from Jamie Jackson:

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