The Prohibition Era should have taught the US government that blanket bans on previously legal products is an invitation for crime.
But there are always paternalistic people in Washington, D.C. who think they are smarter than anyone else and want to protect people from themselves.
Now the Biden administration has jumped on a new ban bandwagon, and the drug cartels can’t wait.
Ban of menthol cigarettes has unintended consequences
The Biden administration is planning to prohibit the sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars effective April 2024, after a proposal was put forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the decision was put in place to help protect children and benefit adult smokers and their health.
Becerra said, “The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit. Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”
But the menthol ban will potentially cause even bigger problems, including opening up opportunities for Mexican cartels to move into the space and sell them on the black market.
The FDA’s director of the Center for Tobacco Products, Brian King, said that the rules were in their “final step of review for regulatory documents” and they had now reached the White House Office of Management and Budget.
But ex-law enforcement officials worry that the ban will create a variety of issues, including creating a vacuum for cartels.
Jorge Colina, former City of Miami chief of police, spoke with Fox News Digital, saying, “This is essentially prohibition, and we know what happens when you remove a current market. That means organized crime and/or cartels move in.”
Many law enforcement officials expressed disappointment that the Biden administration never invited them to the table to give their advice during the process while they were drafting the new “no menthol” rules.
Colina says that the ban is an “unfunded mandate” that will likely make conditions “ripe for the Chinese or the Mexicans or the cartels to move in and take advantage of what’s going to be a multi-billion-dollar industry.”
He mentioned that many people in government have discussed how they could minimize contact with police and the public over the years, including not enforcing certain traffic offenses or looking at civil citations for certain crimes instead of making actual arrests.
“Then they turn around, and they do things like this,” he said.
The ban will have ripple effects
Several law enforcement officials say they can already see that the new menthol ban will create serious blowback.
Pete Forcelli, a former special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), said that “law enforcement should have been allowed at the table to talk about this.”
He also said that with any type of ban, you’re opening up “opportunities for organized crime, for drug cartels, and truthfully – given the nature of what’s going on now – even folks funding terrorist activities in the Middle East to profit from that black market that you’re going to create.”
Retired police chief and the founder and CEO of the Police Unity Tour Pat Montuore said the ban “creates markets that are not legal, creating a market to where you not only have the person smoking it, but you have a vendor selling something, and where did they get it from and how did they do that? You put yourself in positions that you can’t win, and you also put our officers in harm’s way.”
Some lawmakers including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) have been vocal opponents of the ban for some time, noting that the Biden administration’s policies are rife with misplaced priorities and contradictions.
According to Cotton, “This administration would make criminals of law-abiding citizens while granting actual felons early release and encouraging illicit drug use. No wonder Americans have lost faith in an administration that’s less interested in public safety than targeting political enemies.”
Informed American will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.