Biden’s Smoke Break

A rule up in smoke. Goodwill burned down to the filter. Hacking, hocking, and coughing his way to the finish line. His electoral chances wafting away like an elegantly exhaled plume into the soft evening light.

Ok, ok, that’s enough lung-dart metaphors. Any more and you’re liable to be diagnosed with lung cancer. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get fitted with a neck stoma like a real-life PSA and re-career into a peripatetic school visitor wising children up to Joe Camel’s predations.

Now that I’ve smoldered your patience, good reader, I’ll get to the point: blacks and cigarettes. A tale as old as time, or at least since 1957 when Newport gifted the masses with its smooth, minty, fiberglass-noted taste.

What? Why the accusative look? Am I racist for noticing black Americans have a predilection for mentholatum-tinged cigs? Well, you better point your cancelation wand away from me and towards Washington, because the Biden Administration is affirming what reams of market data already prove.

President Biden’s team is acutely aware of their candidate’s need for the ebony vote. And the brown vote. And the yellow vote. And the red vote. And the purple (hair) vote. And the green (energy) vote. And the white vote, but only those whose yearly income exceeds six figures and who hold a post-grad degree.

Democrats needing over 75% of Afra-melanin backing to win presidential races is Full Ginsburg gospel among politicos. But recent polling shows Donald Trump edging into Biden’s black support, which is the kind of marginal creep that keeps Navy Yard consultants up late tossing back $25 cocktails in a frustrated fret. So what does the Administration—which is ostensibly de jure disconnected from the campaign, but is de facto another arm of it—do to keep Biden’s race-base numbers level at best?

Revoke a bureau-marmish mandate for their own good, naturally. Two years ago, the Administration announced its intention to ban menthol-imbued cigarettes. Back in 2009, the FDA was granted congressional authority to “regulate” (read: proscribe) alternative tobacco flavors. Not an agency when gifted a hammer to miss any nails, the federal healthacracy struck an entire rainbow of tastes, including such vomitous concoctions like tutti-frutti and Orange Julius, particularly for vaping, thankfully halting the wussification of America. Menthol, by virtue of its longstanding existence, was awarded dispensation.

Until a president whose son smokes crack and leaves his schnoz-dust around the West Wing decided that tailpipe-mint was too intriguing a tang to leave alone. Following the simpleton logic that any artificial additive to tobacco automatically attracts the young, pale-paletted, and simple-minded, the Biden HHS, led by a man without any public health credentials, proposed a rule to strip menthol smokes from the market. But then this pesky thing called an election just had to come along. Now, it’s suddenly fine again to puff happily away on carcinogenic swizzle sticks.

The Wall Street Journal reports the about-face is due to “the political risk of angering some [b]lack voters in an election year.” And the excuse? (Science must have rationalization, otherwise the entire white-paper industry would collapse.) The no-fun functionaries claim they need “more time to consult with outside groups on the matter.”

Hmmmm. I wonder, truly wonder, what these outside groups will say. We already have half-a-century’s worth of proof that cigarettes directly cause lung cancer, and that second hand smoke endangers the pneumatic wellbeing of children. (Except me: My mother puffed on Virginia Slims in my presence until I was a teenager and my oxygen sacks are just fine according to my latest physical. Take that, Philip Morris!)

Big Tobacco doesn’t want to lose a third of its market thanks to nanny-state regulators. The same safetyist pressure orgs that have been trying to ban cigarettes for a generation aren’t about to change their tune either. What more can be taken into account, besides desperate Joe needing to raise his ballot count in Philadelphia and Detroit?

The Biden Administration trying to shrink the already dwindling cigarette industry sounds like an outdated cause. Smoking is at a record low in America. It’s rarely depicted in movies or shows anymore, unless they’re period dramas. Tobacco is still popular, and nicotine is just as addicting, if Zyn is any indication. But cigarettes are stigmatized, with the same repulsive effect as being a Jehovah’s Witness or owning an Android smartphone. Just go to any theme park or large public event and ask for directions to the “smoking section.” You’ll be curtly pointed to a hidden, rotting gazebo by a disgusted staffer.

The anti-smoking crusade in early noughties wasn’t for naught. It actually worked. Millennials have eschewed the time-honored pastime of lighting a Camel with an adult beverage, similar to their aversions to other traditions like marriage and mortgages. Gen. Z can’t even be bothered to drink, have sex, read a book, or even have friends. If a straightedge Zoomer ever encountered a cigarette, he/she/xe would probably regard it like a Native American encountering Christopher Columbus for the first time: stunned incomprehension.

Cultural ostracization killed off smoking more than the government’s ever-climbing taxation and prohibition. Ban or no ban, we’re nearing the dog-end of the cigarette era, just in time for marijuana’s reclassification into a drug no worse than cough syrup.

Trading the jittery, brown-thumbed, overworked, chain-ripping toilers for indolent, junked-food-stuffed, Hulu-bingers is the quintessential American trade for the 21st century.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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