Ban Expected to Have Far-reaching Consequences; Westchester County Executive Voices Concerns
New York, NY – November 14, 2023 – In a powerful demonstration of unity, Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner and founder of the E.R.I.C. Initiative Foundation, will stand alongside law enforcement veterans, labor unions, business leaders, and other prominent figures, demanding that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intervene to stop the Biden Administration’s impending menthol cigarette ban. The ban, expected to be finalized by the FDA within weeks, is set to become the most extensive prohibition of a legal adult product in modern history, with ramifications that extend well beyond the scope of its intended goal.
Ms. Carr penned a letter to Senator Schumer on November 9, imploring him to reconsider his stance on the menthol ban. The group argues that the ban, while well-intentioned, will lead to unintended consequences, including negative impacts on businesses, harm to communities of color, and the potential for the menthol cigarette market, valued at $30 billion, to fall into the hands of organized crime. This, in turn, is predicted to result in financial hardships for legitimate businesses and layoffs as their revenues plummet. Additionally, enforcing this prohibition will burden the nation’s already stretched law enforcement agencies.
One alarming concern raised by the coalition is that the menthol ban may have the same racial profiling implications as the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy, potentially leading to more negative interactions between police and communities of color. In a state like New York, already home to the nation’s largest illicit tobacco market, the prohibition is expected to cause hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue and an increase in violent crime, as reported in a recent POLITICO story. Despite these concerns, Senator Schumer has remained notably silent on this issue, despite its imminent finalization.
In December 2022, Westchester County Executive George Latimer vetoed a proposed menthol ban by the county’s legislators. His decision came as a response to concerns regarding the possible unintended ramifications of the policy. Latimer emphasized that the rates of smoking had decreased overall and expressed apprehensions regarding the potential economic and law enforcement consequences that could arise from implementing such a ban.
It is noteworthy that Westchester County is situated within Senator Chuck Schumer’s district. As a result, the question remains whether Senator Schumer will align his stance with the expressed wishes and concerns of the people within his district regarding the menthol ban issue.
- Rev. Malcolm Byrd, Senior Pastor Mother of A.M.E Zion in Harlem
- Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, member of Mothers of the Movement, Founder of E.R.I.C. Initiative Foundation
- Edgar Domenech, 117th Sheriff of New York City, COO of the ATF (Ret.)
- Rev. Johnnie Green, Senior Pastor of Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, NY, President/CEO of MPAC-NY
- Damon Jones, activist and publisher, representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America
- Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues, NYPD (Ret.), author, motivational speaker, community leader, and national policing expert
- David Schwartz, New York Association of Wholesalers and Distributors
- Mike Smith, President of Local 810, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- Kent Sopris, President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores
The coalition aims to shed light on the potential consequences of the menthol ban and urge Senator Schumer to take action to protect the interests of businesses, communities, and law enforcement agencies nationwide. The concerns Westchester County Executive George Latimer voiced with his veto of the county bill further highlight the need to carefully reconsider the ban’s implications.