FDA Faces Controversy Over Potential Ban on Menthol Cigarettes: Expert Warns of Unintended Consequences


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)
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Baltimore, MD – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is embroiled in a contentious debate as it considers implementing a ban on menthol cigarettes next month. This proposed ban has elicited strong reactions from various experts including Major Neill Franklin, a highly respected law enforcement veteran with over three decades of experience in the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department. 

Major Neill Franklin

“Today, the bulk of the murders, the street corner shootings that we see the foundation of all of this gun violence is in the illicit drug market. That’s where we pushed drugs underground into these illicit markets that cannot be managed by contracts and courtrooms because it’s illegal to sell them,” he said.

In an interview with AURN News, Major Franklin cautions against the potential repercussions of such a ban, particularly within the black community, the highest number of menthol users.

“They manage them among themselves, the gangs and the crews and organized crime syndicates, the cartels, they manage it among themselves. And the way to do that, historically is through violence, gun violence to corner your market share. All we’re going to do with banning and prohibiting menthol cigarettes is to create another underground illicit market, a valuable, illicit market that will be fought for in our neighborhoods and on our street corners. With what? With guns and gun violence,” Franklin noted.

Franklin warns of the potential consequences of banning menthol cigarettes, particularly through the emergence of an illicit market. Drawing parallels with the illicit drug trade, he predicts that banning menthol cigarettes would push the market underground, resulting in increased violence and criminal activity. 

“If the FDA decides that they’re going to ban menthol cigarettes nationwide, hold on to your hat, because we’re going to have another illicit market for cigarettes where will be trafficked from the southern border, through the hands of the cartel, you’re going to find inferior products, meaning tobacco products that are far more dangerous, being infused with menthol coming from China,” he commented.

“You’re going to have the Chinese and other people making cigarettes, and we have no idea what’s in them. So we’re going to have an accelerated health issue, because of the lack of quality of these elicit products, and then we’re going to have the violence that is generated from the marketplace itself.” Franklin added.

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

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