EXCLUSIVE: Attorney Ben Crump Raises Concerns Over FDA’s Upcoming Menthol Ban

Crump emphasized that the ban could exacerbate existing tensions between law enforcement and Black and Brown communities.


Attorney Ben Crump arrives at Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)
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Washington, D.C. — In an exclusive interview with AURN News, prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump expressed his concerns about the potential consequences of the upcoming menthol cigarette ban by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Crump emphasized that the ban could exacerbate existing tensions between law enforcement and Black and Brown communities.

“I’m representing a young man now, Denzel Ruff in Maryland, who the police said that they were coming to interact with him because he was vaping. And it led to him having to be hospitalized because of the excessive force that was bestowed on him,” Crump said.

“I’m very concerned about the police using this federal ban to target Black people. And, you know, it’s almost like saying, ‘Well, he didn’t have a seatbelt,’ or ‘He was playing his music too loud.’ I mean, things that are benign, but reasons why Black people end up becoming hashtags. And so it is an unforeseen consequence that’s going to have a lot of collateral damage,” he added.

Crump also pointed to the case of Eric Garner, who tragically died during an altercation with police officers while he was being monitored for selling loose cigarettes. The impending ban, which would make it difficult to distinguish between menthol and non-menthol cigarettes from a distance, raises fears of increased profiling and interactions between police and people of color. Attorney Crump argued that these encounters disproportionately lead to brutalization and excessive use of force against Black individuals.

“It has the potential to affect people in our community more than it would affect anybody else, when you look at who are the menthol users – who are overwhelmingly Black people. And I’m not surprised that the mainstream media is not paying attention to it, because it’s the whole reason why we have continued to declare Black Lives Matter. They don’t see our lives as significant. And we have to continue to use our resources. And that’s why I’m grateful to [AURN] for saying no, this is an important issue, because it’s going to impact our children, and nobody else is going to fight for our children, then we’re going to [have to] fight for our children. And we’re going to bring attention to issues that affect our children,” Crump commented.

The FDA and the Biden administration are expected to make a final decision on the menthol ban this month.

FILE – This May 17, 2018 file photo shows packs of menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products at a store in San Francisco. On Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb pledged to ban menthol from cigarettes, in what could be a major step to further push down U.S. smoking rates. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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

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