WTO upholds US ban on clove cigarettes
I previously blogged about the ban on clove cigarettes and Indonesia’s appeal of the ban here and here. Indonesia appealed because Djarum (pictured above) and a majority of the other manufacturers of kreteks (aka clove cigarettes) are located in their country.
This month, the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) denied Indonesia’s appeal of the United States’ ban. Business Week reports that Indonesia argued that the ban unfairly targeted clove-flavored cigarettes because the ban does not cover menthols. Menthols, for those who don’t know, are the popular flavored- cigarette manufactured mostly in the United States. Menthols account for 25% of cigarette sales in the United States.
Indonesia complained that by banning cloves and not menthols, the United States arbitrarily favored US cigarette manufacturers. The United States defended the ban on the grounds that it was intended to stop teenagers from smoking.
According to Business Week, the WTO agreed with Indonesia’s main contention — that the ban discriminates. WTO judges agreed stating that, “[t]he panel found that the ban is inconsistent with the national-treatment obligation because it accords clove cigarettes less favorable treatment than that accorded to menthol-flavored cigarettes.”
But the panel rejected Indonesia’s second main claim that the partial ban is not necessary, finding that “there is extensive scientific evidence supporting the conclusion that banning clove and other flavored cigarettes could contribute to reducing youth smoking.”
And so, the WTO deferred to the stated “health and general welfare” concerns cited by the United States and upheld the United States’ self-serving and partial ban on flavored cigarettes.
In other news, menthol cigarettes are increasingly popular with teenagers. Well played, United States. Well played.