For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The operative word here is opposite.

The wonks want to ban mint and menthol cigarettes for a myriad of reasons. Crime groups are also wishing and hoping the ban happens, so they can scoop up black market profits while the taxpayers fill in the revenue shortfall from loss of sales. But we’ll be a healthier state for it, right? I seriously doubt it.

This isn’t only about menthol and youth, the African-American community and smoking. It’s also about illegal commerce in our neighborhoods, black marketing. We have our hands full just trying to control the local opioid epidemic, and a ban on menthol cigarettes will just feed illegitimate peddling, rewarding the criminal and punishing your nearby variety store. Does the ban sound stupid yet? Wait, there’s more.

Rich Marianos, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (retired), addressed Beacon Hill last week and pointed out that bills H 4089 and S 2357 would not stop the sale of menthol cigarettes, but instead would divert sales from convenience stores to under-the-table operations. Will the wonks listen to reality? Normally they don’t, so get ready for the next ban in Massachusetts, unless something changes their Scrooge-like minds.

The local and state officials will gather information and contemplate all the sides of this issue. They are free to make whatever choices they want, but they’re not free from the consequences of their choices.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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