Menthol Ban Would Create 'Rogue Retailers'

GACS letter lays out "significant unintended results"

Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS)

DALLAS, Ga. -- A possible crackdown on menthol cigarettes by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) could spur a new market for contraband smokes sold by "rogue retailers," the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores (GACS) is warning, reported The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

In July, the FDA launched a review of menthol cigarettes, saying "menthol cigarettes raise critical public health questions," inviting public comment as to what actions it might take.

In a letter to the FDA made public Oct. 8, Jim Tudor, president of GACS, said an FDA crackdown could hurt the more than 2,500 convenience stores in Georgia that the organization represents.

"From the outset our members believe strongly that overly restrictive regulations, including a ban on menthol in cigarettes, would have significant unintended results," the letter obtained by the newspaper said. "Current contraband activity in tobacco is well documented, as well as 'roll-your-own' operations within our state. Should a ban be implemented, we believe that a new market for contraband menthol cigarettes be created and sold through nonregulated or rogue retailers. Our members already compete on the street with such operations, and an expansion of their product mix would have negative economic impact on the legitimate retailers and their lawful sales."

The letter added, "If menthol is banned or severely restricted, our members will be competing with a greatly expanded underground market for cigarettes. Cigarette sales won't occur in our member stores, instead we will be driving sales underground."

It concluded, "The consequences would be lost jobs and lost tax revenues to federal, state and local governments."

Click here to read the Atlanta Business Journal report and full GACS letter.