U.S. Hispanic Business Council President Challenges FDA’s Proposed Ban on Menthol Cigarettes

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U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Javier Palomarez gestures as he speaks at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 2014 Legislative Summit in Washington, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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WASHINGTON D.C. (AURN News) – Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Business Council, has raised some serious concerns over the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) forthcoming ban on menthol cigarettes. In an exclusive interview with AURN News, Palomarez passionately voiced his reservations about the potential repercussions of the ban, particularly its impact on imports, exports, and communities of color.

“In 29 states in America, marijuana is legal. 29 states…and every year more and more states are making marijuana legal. Imagine a world where you can purchase a joint and you’re absolutely fine to sit outside and smoke it. But if you purchase a menthol cigarette, you could get arrested,” Palomarez said.

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)

He strongly believes that the proposed regulation could have unintended consequences and infringe upon individual freedoms. “The purchase and consumption of menthol cigarettes happens to be disproportionately concentrated in communities of color. These are adults that are legally purchasing a product for their enjoyment. They are paying for the product, it is regulated, it is controlled. These are taxpaying, hardworking Americans who haven’t done anything wrong,” he added.

“The minute you make this product, an illegal product, guess who will start producing that product and bringing it through our southern border? it will be the Chinese, providing it to the cartels, the cartels bringing it through the southern border into the United States, selling it to consumers,” he said.

Palomarez expressed concern about potential ramifications on trade and illicit activities. For the United States Hispanic Business Council, the potential menthol ban by the Biden Administration is an issue that has deep effects. “We had to speak up and say listen, it impacts our grocers, our convenience store owners, our lounge owners, our restaurant owners, our bar owners, our bodega owners, that again, are playing by the rules, paying taxes, creating jobs, and selling a product that is legally consumed and can only be consumed by an adult. And if you criminalize that, guess what’s going to happen, the cartels will take over and they will begin to sell this product and making a huge fortune,” Palomarez told AURN News.

The FDA is expected to make its final decision sometime this month.


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

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