In a 2017 article, The Liberty Block warned that if tyrants are allowed to empower themselves to create and enforce victimless crimes without resistance from the people, we would see many more Eric Garners. In that case, NYPD cops murdered a black man after approaching him and failing to receive an adequate amount of obedience from him. They originally engaged with him because he was allegedly selling cigarettes without total approval from all government gangs who claimed to own him. Authoritarian sociopaths who justify the killing of Garner would claim that he deserved to die because he didn’t have a license to sell loose cigarettes and because he was not ensuring that the government received a portion of the revenue he generated (sales tax).
Now, Dictator Biden and his FDA are preparing to pass a law that would increase the frequency of incidents like Garner’s. On April 28th, The NY Post reported that the FDA has officially proposed a new rule that would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and cigars anywhere in the united states. Over the next few months, citizens will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal. But the FDA regulators don’t have to take the comments into account when they formally decide whether to implement the new law.
Some naive people believe that Congress (the legislative branch) is the one with the power to pass new laws (legislation). But legislators are not the chief lawmakers in the Authoritarian State of America anymore; regulatory agency bureaucrats make nearly all new laws.
Race & poverty
The proponents of the menthol ban claim that because black people and poorer people are more likely to smoke menthols, this rule would save those people from their own reckless behavior. Progressives have made it very clear that they do consider black people to be especially stupid and generally inferior to their white counterparts, so the justification for this new rule is not shocking. The new rule will effectively turn more black, LGBT, and poor people into criminals overnight.
Violence for non-violent crimes
As was the case with Garner, this new prohibition could give cops yet another justification for approaching, harassing, and punishing peaceful citizens. Eric Garner did not use violence against another human, but cops still punished him for an alleged crime. Once the menthol ban goes into effect, cops all over the union will be able to use the smell or general suspicion of menthol as a pretext for a stop, search, or other forms of harassment that would otherwise be totally unlawful. Any time a cop wants to search a car or try to trap a naive driver into self-incrimination, all he needs to do is pull him over for any real or imaginary driving infraction, then claim to smell menthol as soon as the window is opened. Then, the cop could easily claim that he has reasonable suspicion to search the vehicle and question the driver even further. While cops do these sorts of things to all persons, young, poor, black people may be the most concerned with the massive expansion of police powers to victimize individuals who harmed nobody. If you want cops to have less potentially dangerous interactions with black people, you will certainly oppose the new FDA rule.
Some claim that menthols are especially addictive or more dangerous than other types of cigarettes and that they should therefore be banned. However, a Reason Magazine article points out that “Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found menthol smokers were somewhat less likely to develop lung cancer than non-menthol smokers.”
Regardless of whether they are more dangerous than other cigarettes, prohibition is both immoral and ineffective. The federal government banned alcohol in the 1920s. It created more criminals because it automatically made every person who drank beer into a lawbreaker. It also drove alcohol sellers underground, creating the modern mafia systems, along with a massive rise in violent crime. It was such a terrible failure that the federal government repealed the prohibition on alcohol a few years later. However, the prohibition of alcohol and the repeal of the prohibition were both done via the ‘proper’ methods: a constitutional amendment. Congress passed a law, and ¾ of the states ratified it. Today, Congress stands by and refuses to make decisions that could lead to accountability, and they encourage the FDA to make all the major decisions.
In addition to alcohol prohibition being repealed, the rules restricting the sale and use of cannabis and even harder drugs are rapidly melting away. Many states have decriminalized cannabis and some states have legalized all drugs. But Congress still has yet to alter its designation of cannabis as ‘the most dangerous type of substance and one which has no medical benefit and which is highly dangerous and addictive’. Again, we see that Congress refuses to take action that could lead to them being held accountable for an important decision. They are perfectly content to continue considering the millions of cannabis users around the union to be high-level criminals.
Once this rule goes into effect, we can expect more traffic stops, police searches and seizures, more harassment, more police brutality, more prisoners, and more Eric Garners. Prohibition of substances and criminalizing non-violent behavior is never moral and never works as intended. In the case of banning menthol, the DC regulators are essentially saying that they don’t trust people to make their own risk-benefit decisions and that people are far too stupid to run their own lives, especially black people. And the politicians stand idly by, silently supporting the bureaucrats. Once this prohibition is in effect, it will likely not ever be repealed. The FDA has not been known to loosen its restrictions. Soon, menthol smokers will have no choice but to join the rapidly growing movement to secede from the DC sociopaths once and for all.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.