Republicans Are Using The Proposed Menthol Cigarettes Ban To Court Black Voters. Here’s Why That’s Racist

Republicans Are Using The Proposed Menthol Cigarettes Ban To Court Black Voters. Here’s Why That’s Racist

Source: Michael M. Santiago / Getty

Ahead of the Republican primary in South Carolina, a group of conservatives are looking to field-test a strategy to help steer Black people away from the Democratic party. Their plan? To convince Black people that President Joe Biden will ban menthol cigarettes.

As previously reported, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a menthol cigarette ban. Biden hasn’t announced a decision on whether he will approve the proposal, but “Republicans and conservative groups are trying to determine whether leveraging this issue can influence voter behavior and reduce the president’s vote count,” according to CNN, so putting the cart before that particular horse is in their best interest. One group is planning to use South Carolina as its guinea pig state to test out the strategy.

From CNN:

The Liberty Policy Foundation, a conservative advocacy group, plans on launching an aggressive ad campaign in South Carolina to see whether it can sway some public opinion against Biden and Democrats, according to a Republican strategist working with the group.

The ads rolled out on digital platforms Wednesday morning.

The ad campaign is targeting three groups, the strategist said: African Americans who disapprove of Biden and think he has been ineffective as president, small business owners and young Americans who lean independent.

The Liberty Policy Foundation sees the ads as a “high priority because we can test how or if it moves voters for the primary,” the strategist told CNN.

Like white conservatives across America, the fine folks at Liberty Policy Foundation are either unaware or pretending to be unaware of their own racism.

Really? You’re going to convince Black voters to come to the GOP by telling them Democrats are going to take their Newports?

Here’s the thing: White conservatives consistently demonstrate that they don’t care about the general welfare of Black people or the issues that are important to us. All they care about is what they can use to manipulate Black people into Republican support, and what they can use to present the illusion of a racially diverse Republican party and electorate (all while denouncing DEI as identity politics run amok).

If conservatives really cared what most Black people think, feel and want, they would stop fighting every attempt at police reform the opposition proposes. They would advocate for a truthful telling of American history instead of the thoroughly whitewashed, white America-friendly, oppression-denying propaganda they think is appropriate for school children. They would stop opposing affirmative action and DEI while erroneously claiming the GOP is the party of opportunity, employment and education for Black people. They would stop advocating for racist vigilantes and killer cops to go free. They wouldn’t vehemently oppose pro-Black activism the way they do. They wouldn’t suppress the Black vote through congressional redistricting or arbitrary election security laws pushed to solve an election fraud problem that doesn’t exist.

There are actually plenty of practical things Republicans can do to capitalize on the reported waning Black support for the Democratic Party. But supporting those things would cost Republicans support that matters to them mostwhite voters. Now, the Liberty Policy Foundation wants to try and gain favor with Black people by playing on Black stereotypes, and that’s where the menthol ban fearmongering comes in.

Here’s the other thing: Regardless of how Black people feel about the proposed ban, there’s no reason to believe an end to the production and distribution of menthol cigarettes wouldn’t save Black lives. Studies, indeed, show that 77% of Black smokers prefer them. Studies also show that menthol cigarette marketing ads were literally aimed at young Black people. In fact, in 2017, the documentary Black Lives/Black Lungs exposed the way the tobacco industry has targeted the Black community.

Republican idea to gain black voters is to oppose the banning of menthol cigarettes. The American Lung Assoc. says getting rid of them could save 654,000 lives of mainly black people.
They don’t care about black lives, power is more important to them.

— Jay (@JazzyJ87283918) January 24, 2024

From our previous report:

The consequences have been devastating. African-Americans die from diseases related to tobacco use at a higher rate than Whites, even though Blacks smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking at an older age than White people do, according to the CDC.

Cigarette makers are not the only industry under fire for targeting the Black community. Earlier this year, two pastors from the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, CBS News reported.

According to the ministers, the soda industry shares a huge part of the responsibility for the diabetes epidemic that has swept through minority communities because the industry targets African-Americans and Hispanics.

Do y’all remember when conservatives were trying to convince Black people to get behind their pro-life campaign by pointing out that Black people get more abortions per capita, causing a disproportionate termination of potential Black babies? It’s odd that these Republican groups would apply the opposite rationale when trying to convince us that a cigarette ban isn’t in our best interest. Meanwhile, as CNN noted, the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus both support the proposed ban.

Here’s where it gets even more insidious: Republicans are trying to use the story of Eric Garner to boost their white nonsense.

More from CNN:

CNN viewed the ad that’s set to run in the South Carolina market, which features a woman in a voiceover. “President Biden keeps talking about uniting Americans, bringing us together, so why is he pushing policies that continue to divide us? Like his proposal to criminalize menthol cigarettes. Community leaders have warned Biden about the unintended consequences of banning menthol cigarettes.” The ad shows headlines related to Eric Garner, who died after police held him in a chokehold. Police initially confronted Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.

First of all, Garner was killed by NYPD officers while there was no menthol ban in place. It hadn’t even been proposed yet. Secondly, Black community members, including Garner’s mother, have, indeed, warned about the ban on menthol cigarettes, but not because they think it’s unfair to Black smokers. They have warned that the ban would only result in more racial profiling and policing of Black bodies. White conservatives, on the other hand, have only ever supported the police after they killed unarmed Black people, including Garner. Now, the same boot-lickers are trying to flip Garner’s story in their favor.

It’s hypocritical and racist as hell. It’s also very American.


Why Do We Need A Menthol Ban? Tobacco Control Leader Explains Racial Consequences, Benefits

Documentary Shames Tobacco Industry For Targeting The Black Community

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