Biden Admin Unprepared for Hezbollah’s Menthol Scheme

( – Republican lawmakers warn that the Biden administration has not planned for the criminal black market that will develop after the FDA ban on menthol cigarettes is finalized, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The FDA is close to finalizing a ban on flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes, a move that prompted retailers to warn in October that the move would shift the supply of a product used by about 40 percent of US smokers from “responsible” and “regulated” retailers to an “illicit marketplace.”

Lawmakers earlier this month warned that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have not been developing a plan to prepare for this emergent “illicit marketplace” that could be controlled by criminal cartels or even Islamic terror groups.

Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks told the Free Beacon that the impending menthol ban could enrich terrorist groups like Hamas or Hezbollah and the administration has ignored that risk “entirely.”

Banks, along with five Republican colleagues, warned in a February 6 letter to the FDA that the administration must have a plan in place to prevent terrorist groups from “partnering with international organizations like Mexican cartels.” The lawmakers said without a plan, Hamas, Hezbollah, and “other bad actors” would be poised to profit from a black market.

Former National Security Council analyst Richard Goldberg told the Free Beacon that he had not seen anything that would indicate the administration had prepared federal agencies to deal with the sharp increase in smuggled cigarettes that would follow the menthol ban.

Goldberg said Americans should be alarmed that groups like Hezbollah would be “incentivized to establish massive cigarette trafficking networks” within the US, particularly with the southern border “wide open,” and the agencies that are responsible for preventing it, “have not been tasked with any mitigation plan.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green told the Free Beacon that there was plenty of evidence indicating that Hezbollah would exploit a black market in banned tobacco products to make money to fund “their nefarious activities.”

Copyright 2024,