A menthol ban will empower cartels (Media Share)

COLT opposes Menthol Ban

Please check out this commentary article in the Daily Montanan, written by Marvin Weatherwax, Jr. (current President of the Coalition of Large Tribes) on February 26, 2024.

A menthol ban will empower cartels (Media Share)


Our Native American families and communities have been devastated by the proliferation of illegal drugs such as fentanyl.  This epidemic has been fueled by foreign drug cartels that profit from an ever-growing illicit market.

A federal proposal by the Food & Drug Administration to ban the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars could make matters worse by creating new opportunities for foreign cartels to profit from illegal tobacco through another illicit market.

History has shown that when a product is banned, an illicit market emerges to meet the demand.  While the prohibition of menthol products may be well-intentioned, it will negatively impact public safety on Indian reservations.  Tribal law enforcement is historically underfunded and restricted in certain jurisdictions where they do not have authority over non-Native Americans. A menthol ban will further strain our already overburdened tribal police.

Congress should stop the FDA and tell them to shelve this misguided proposal to ban menthol products.  A good first step in the consideration of future proposals like these would be to consult with Tribal leaders and communities that will face the unintended consequences from these prohibition policies.

We should instead focus our efforts on harm reduction through education and counseling.  This is what will work to reduce usage and harm in our society, not prohibition.

Marvin Weatherwax, Jr.

Coalition of Large Tribes, President

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