WASHINGTON, June 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted two Listening Sessions on June 13, 2022 and June 15, 2022 to hear from the public regarding its proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, but Menthol Is Not a Crime has uncovered numerous people who wished to speak but were left out and many who did speak that felt unheard.
“Is this a conspiracy? Why is the FDA going to ban something that most Black people smoke and then not give people an opportunity to be heard?” wondered Barbara Hamlett of Virginia.
Jemmise Bowen, of North Carolina, was also upset that she was not chosen to speak, frustratingly stating, “The FDA didn’t see value in my words. They didn’t want to hear from smokers. People smoke for different reasons. A lot of menthol smokers smoke because we quit drugs, but you didn’t hear that.”
In order to be selected you had to register by June 6, and had to be prepared to speak any time between 10am and 4pm. Once selected speakers were given a two hour window, in which their name would be called.
Out of the 105 speakers, approximately 15 were not affiliated with any organization. Many who participated viewed them as a failed attempt to create an equal opportunity for the average American to participate in the rulemaking process that will decide the fate of menthol cigarettes.
Alejandra Rocha of Iowa, highlighted the digital divide noting, “Many people in the US don’t have or can’t afford the Internet, and those are the exact people who will be most affected by this ban– people of color.” “…When you take into account race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, plus owning a laptop, having broadband Internet, and having enough time and money to take off work to comment, this Listening Session is only for the elite in our society.”
Still others who participated felt as though it wasn’t transparent. Mary Peterson of Iowa said, “I felt censored from the beginning because according to their instructions, I couldn’t say anything about the FDA. It wasn’t freedom of speech. I’m very concerned about the power of the FDA.”
The public has until July 5 to submit a written comment via the FDA website at https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/FDA-2021-N-1349-0001.
SOURCE Menthol Is Not A Crime