William Southern - Comment

This is a Comment on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Proposed Rule: Menthol in Cigarettes, Tobacco Products; Request for Comments

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As the former Sheriff of Stokes County and a current curriculum coordinator for Criminal Justice Technology at a North Carolina Community College, I keep a keen eye on developments in the criminal justice system. I understand the interconnections in local, state, and federal law enforcement, judicial processes, corrections, and security services. Each year, the state and federal government examine adjustments in criminal law. I wanted to call your attention to an issue that might be overlooked or not fully considered.

The FDA is studying whether to ban menthol cigarettes from the marketplace. Therefore, criminalizing the sale and distribution of a currently legal product. Our society knows smoking tobacco can be dangerous, but criminalizing menthol cigarettes might be taking it one step to far. If banned, consumers desire for the product will not magically disappear. Menthol cigarettes will simply be added to the underground market network for distribution that tends to involve organized crime and sophisticated distribution systems. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies realize the issue of tobacco smuggling is complex and intertwines with other criminal enterprises. Thus, it places an increased burden on law enforcement agencies dealing with finite resources.

A ban on menthol cigarettes would touch more than law enforcement agencies. An illicit tobacco trade makes it much easier for minors to purchase illegal cigarettes because vendors who operate in the shadow of regulations seldom verify a customer’s age. Furthermore, considerable tax revenues generated are lost and profits made by others are utilized to expand other criminal operations.

The contraband tobacco trade is one of the most complex tobacco control issues because it is intertwined with other legal, policy and social concerns. Therefore, it needs to be given careful consideration and examined from all the various perspectives including the secondary consequences if banned. I would appreciate your consideration in this matter.
Comment Period Closed
Sep 23 2013, at 11:59 PM ET
ID: FDA-2013-N-0521-0062
Tracking Number: 1jx-87eh-7q80

Document Information

Date Posted: Sep 6, 2013
RIN: Not Assigned
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Submitter Information

Category: Academia - E0007