Following a number of self-inflicted disasters such as the baby formula crisis and backlash following the proposed changes in tobacco policy, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now trying to control damage.
Less than a month after hiring an MSNBC talking head to assist with the agency’s public messaging efforts, the FDA announced it was commissioning a review of its food and tobacco programs as criticisms mount. This independent review is to take place Reagan-Udall Foundation, will examine the department’s operations as FDA Commissioner Robert Califf pushes for expanded authorities despite ongoing missteps.
Like other blame shifting efforts of the Biden Administration the agency quickly attributes policy failures messaging mistakes. Amid skyrocketing violent crime rates, record inflation, and an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border, it’s little wonder why the White House is attempting to deflect from negative coverage with shiny object proposals like a blanket menthol ban and reduced nicotine levels in cigarettes.
This approach is flawed because it does not take into account science. Instead, these measures serve as political moves meant to distract from the Biden Administration’s inability to score wins with its base ahead of what’s expected to be a wipeout midterm election for Democrats.
Holman W.Jenkins, Jr. made this observation recently in The Wall Street Journal, the agency’s plans to progressively reduce the nicotine in cigarettes will only push smokers “to light up more often and puff harder to get the desired nicotine hit.”In the meantime, its Juul ban drives “from the market the most popular consumer product that allows people to consume nicotine without the side effects of smoking.”
This isn’t just anecdotal. Public Health England is the British counterpart to the Centers for Disease Control.
“E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes.” This is largely because the tar and toxic chemicals that are released from burning tobacco when you smoke cigarettes are what causes cancer—not nicotine. Others have found that vaping is able to help quit smoking. Unfortunately, as Americans saw during the coronavirus pandemic, many so-called “public health” mandates implemented by the current administration are driven by politics, not data or science.
Bizarrely, these policies disproportionately target African American and lower-income communities—both of which the White House has vowed to protect—with the threat of persecution or worse health outcomes. According to the CDC about 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes compared with just 30 percent among white smokers. Even though President Biden promised to end police brutality, this imbalance makes Black communities more vulnerable. “systemic racism in our criminal justice system and in our institutions more broadly.” I recently gave an editorial on my radio show on the FDA’s proposed menthol ban:
Since May 20,21, the credibility of FDA has been in doubt. Only 37% of Americans said they have a lot trust in it. This number will be further reduced by recent actions taken by the Biden administration to ban tobacco products, despite a string of policy missteps. With inflation hitting double digits across the U.S. amid looming economic turmoil, Biden’s decision to turn his attention to banning menthol cigarettes and Juul devices is not only politically imprudent but ethically repugnant.