• You Can Be in a Hud Indy Ad Too
  • Donate to The Hudson Independent
Letters-to-the-Editor & Commentary

Menthol Bans are Racially Biased Against Latino and Black Communities

• Bookmarks: 17

November 8, 2022

Since 1996 the National Latino Officers Association (NLOA) has advocated against issues that adversely affect our Latino and Black communities. Today we respectfully request that Westchester County legislators carefully consider the repercussions of passing BILL #2022-461 – a prohibition on flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes. Let it be clear that WE DO NOT ENCOURAGE, SUPPORT, OR PROMOTE CIGARETTE SMOKING. On Monday, November 14, Westchester County legislators will hold a public hearing head of making their decision. As law enforcement experts, we hope legislators hear our perspective and understand that we don’t make the laws, but we do have a hand in enforcing them. We know the unintended consequences of this prohibition. Here are a few:

Menthol bans are racially biased against Latino and Black communities.

  • Work for The Hud Indy
  • Support The Indy - Year-End Ask

*Menthol bans disproportionally impact our communities because most menthol cigarette smokers are people of color.

*There is a racial disparity between outlawing only menthol cigarettes under the premise that it is out of concern for the health and wellness of Latino and Black people, and then exempting non-menthol cigarettes from the ban that Whites mostly consume.

There is a history of well-intentioned legislation that has negatively affected and increased the criminality rate of Latino and Black communities.

*Menthol cigarette bans are reminiscent of the 1973 Rockefeller Drug Laws. During this time, our communities suffered the greatest racial disparity with the sentencing laws of crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. While these are two forms of the same drug, mostly Latino and *Black communities used crack cocaine and received harsher sentences versus Whites who used primarily powder cocaine.

*Regarding menthol cigarette consumption, market research estimates that 48% of Latinos and 85% of Black Americans smoke menthol cigarettes. Only 30% of White Americans smoke menthol cigarettes.

The ban on menthol cigarettes will create an underground market for illegal and unregulated menthol cigarettes.

*In the supply and demand side of the illicit tobacco market, the behavior of the participants (i.e., consumers, manufacturers, and retailers) shapes and drives the illicit trade.

*New York has the highest cigarette tax rate of any state. As a result, two-thirds of the state’s cigarette market is illegal, consisting mostly of bootleg cigarettes from Native American reservations, low-tax states, and international markets (particularly from China).

*This well-established underground market can readily be an entry point to accommodate and supply the demand for menthol cigarettes.

*Illicit cigarette markets will create unnecessary interactions between Latino and Black communities and law enforcement.

*The ban will open a huge market for smugglers to offer members of our communities yet another illicit and unregulated product along with all the other illegal substances plaguing our neighborhoods daily.

*It is well-known that the street value of “loosies” is a lucrative business. The ban will only make menthol cigarettes that more valuable and hence an attractive business for organized crime and gangs to undertake.

While there are assurances that law enforcement will not criminalize Latino and Black smokers for possessing and consuming menthol cigarettes, practice dictates otherwise.

*Latino and Black communities have experienced violent and deadly consequences with other cigarette policies because of the poor execution of policing policies in communities of color.

*NLOA collaborates closely with the criminal justice community and our neighborhoods to improve relationships between law enforcement and the community. The goal is always to limit interactions between police and law-abiding citizens in communities of color.

*The more confrontational interaction we have with law enforcement in our communities, the more potential we have for something to go wrong.

On Monday, November 14, Westchester County legislators will hold a public hearing ahead of making their decision. We urge Westchester County legislators to carefully consider the negative effects of a ban on menthol cigarettes and the unintended repercussions it will cause in Latino and Black communities. The goal of this communication is to raise awareness not only among legislators but also within our communities.

Sylvia T. Miranda, MBA

Executive Director, National Latino Officers Association (NLOA)

Read or leave a comment on this story...

Andrea Martone - Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow real estate agent

Local Boys Basketball Squads Aiming to Show Improvement

By Tom Pedulla--- The Hudson Independent previews the local boys’ basketball season. Here is the outlook for each team: DOBBS...
Read More

Fatality at Broadway and McKeel Avenue Highlights Longstanding Risks for Tarrytown Pedestrians

By Barrett Seaman-- Nelida Distante, 82, of West Elizabeth Street in Tarrytown was crossing North Broadway at its intersection with...
Read More

Negative Declaration Issued for Apartment Plan Near Tarrytown Train Station

By Rick Pezzullo A multi-family rental project proposed at 29 South Depot Plaza in Tarrytown took a major step forward...
Read More

Al Schnier Reflects on His Life, Career and moe.’s Upcoming Shows at The Capitol Theatre

By W.B. King-- When Al Schnier thinks back to an early August evening in 1997, the phrase “imposter syndrome” comes...
Read More

“No Shave November” Raises Cancer Research Money in Honor of the Late Detective Dave Walsh

Some Irvington police officers were looking a little scruffy during the month of November. Others looked rather dashing. By month’s...
Read More

Marry a Character

MARRY A CHARACTER: Exploring Fictosexuality in a Lonely Trilogy By Krista Madsen– Anyone on a dating app these days can tell you...
Read More

Only the Lonely

ONLY THE LONELY: The epidemic and the ambassador By Krista Madsen– Dr. Ruth Westheimer, cute and candid sex therapist many of us...
Read More

Community Food Pantry Helps Residents in Need Year-Round

By Rick Pezzullo---  Two weeks before Thanksgiving, 410 families received a robust bag of groceries and a $20 gift certificate...
Read More

Racing Day In The Rivertowns

By Barrett Seaman— Blessed with a crisp, clear Autumn day, the annual pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot races in Tarrytown and Irvington...
Read More

Mt. Pleasant Grapples With Sleepy Hollow Voting Rights Charge

By Barrett Seaman-- The public seating area at a hearing held on Thursday, November 16 before the Mt. Pleasant Town...
Read More
17 recommended
bookmark icon