May 30, 2023

Ms. Gwen Carr – mother of Eric Garner – sends Gov. Hochul letter warning of the racial consequences of the proposed Menthol Ban

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Gwendolyn Carr, the mother of  Eric Garner—who was killed by NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo in a chokehold while being arrested for selling loosie cigarettes in 2014—has been sounding the alarm through the state of New York of the unintended consequences of the proposed menthol ban by Gov. Kathy Hochul and how it will increase law enforcement encounter with police and people of color which could result in the same outcome that killed her son I. 2014. 

I applaud the full New York Assembly and Senate for rejecting the ongoing effort to ban menthol cigarettes. While I do not smoke and certainly do not condone smoking, I applaud your wisdom in knowing the terrible consequences of such a law. Too many politicians need more wisdom to reflect on those consequences. Instead, they refuse to see the concerns with enforcement and discrimination.

She also reminds the governor that New York State is the number one state for illegal sales of cigarettes, and a menthol ban would only increase the sale of untaxed cigarettes. 

New York is the #1 state for cigarette smuggling. Banning menthol cigarettes will increase the smuggling of illegal, dangerous ones into Black neighborhoods. In addition, when you ban a product sold mostly in Black communities but do not have the same ban in white communities, you invite more police into our communities. My family knows only too well what can happen when police enforce tobacco control laws. Black people have already paid too high a price for discriminatory laws. And for that, please pardon me if I have lost my patience.

She continued: 

I have lost patience with foolishness. With laws making it easy for kids to smoke marijuana while making a Black man or woman smoking a menthol cigarette a criminal. With politicians who is do not think about the consequences of laws and are more focused on political points than people’s lives. With politicians who ignore our history.

If politicians, especially our Black politicians, are not listening to community advocates like Mrs. Carr, pastors, community leaders, and even Law Enforcement to their warnings on how the menthol ban will adversely affect the Black communities. Still, they have heard, then who Are they listening to? 


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