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The Biden administration has delayed plans to ban menthol cigarettes, which are favored by the Black community.

The White House has held meetings with civil rights organizers who opposed the ban, law enforcement officials and small business owners who would be affected by the ban.

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Ebony magazine

Advertising agencies targeted Black people with flashy menthol cigarettes ads in TV commercials, movie theaters, and urban publications. The ads showed beautiful Black people relaxing while smoking menthol cigarettes.

“Its clear that there are still more conversations to have, and that will take significantly more time,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Friday.

The announcement is seen as a setback for the Food and Drug Administration. FDA officials predicted the ban would prevent hundreds of thousands of smoking-related deaths over 40 years.

“This decision prioritizes politics over lives, especially Black lives,” said Yolonda Richardson of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in an emailed statement to the Associated Press. “It is especially disturbing to see the administration parrot the false claims of the tobacco industry about support from the civil rights community.”