She also took issue with the fact that the bill exempts premium cigars favored by white people but took aim at products used by black people.
“The message that we’re sending is that, you know, for poorer communities — communities with less franchise that are gonna be over-policed — we’re going to add an extra burden to them,” Clarke told The Hill Thursday.
Concern over the bill grew this week when the the American Civil Liberties Union, which has a strong pull in the Democratic party, circulated a letter outlining its opposition.
“We hope we can work together to avoid repetitions of policies that are intended to protect youth and communities of color, but instead only further engrain systemic criminalization and racism,” the letter reads.
“Smoking cigarettes, especially menthol flavored cigarettes, has resulted in approximately 45,000 African-American deaths each and every year,” said Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushBill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump on US coronavirus risks: ‘We’re very, very ready for this’ House passes historic legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (D-Ill.)
Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber No experience required: US hiring immigration judges who don’t have any immigration law experience Trump administration restricts travel from Nigeria and five other countries MORE (D-Texas), another member of the CBC, said on the House floor, “I’m not here to target people of color. I’m here to save lives.”
Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency’s budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of ‘playing politics’ over Yucca Mountain Hillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment MORE (D-Calif.), aware of the opposition from some members of the CBC, touted support for the bill on Thursday from the NAACP, the National Black Nurses Association and the National Medical Association, which represents African American doctors and their patients.
African Americans are much more likely to use menthol cigarettes than white smokers, and are more likely to die from smoking-related illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Democrats hope to pass the bill to present a contrast to the Trump administration’s approach to youth vaping rates. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began enforcing a limited ban earlier this month on flavored pod-products, like those sold by Juul, with exemptions for menthol and tobacco flavors. It also exempted open-tank and disposable e-cigarettes.
The bill would also ban online sales of e-cigarettes and restrict advertising and marketing of those products.
“We need to ban flavors across the board because that’s what masks the nicotine and makes people think that it’s OK,” Pallone said.
An estimated 5.4 million middle and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2019, according to government data.