WTO upholds US ban on clove cigarettes

BANNED.

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.

Not banned.

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.

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~ by siouxsielaw on September 13, 2011.

12 Responses to “WTO upholds US ban on clove cigarettes”

  1. Wait…clove cigarettes are banned here? And I didn’t even know? Guess someone needs to revoke my Goth card. :p Very interesting case!

    • Well, they’re not completely illegal, Becky. The ban is on retail sales, so you can import from Indonesia if you like. Ironically, they’re often less expensive that way; you just have to remember to order them well in advance to running out!

  2. F’n bull. You -know- some folks at the WTO left with slightly greaser palms.

    Oh well… Guess we’re stuck importing them.

  3. Whenever I want a whiff of Djarums I can still get them. (I mostly like them now to make my purse smell like Winter Solstice.) They’re just labeled “cigars” now. Which they are so obviously not, but it gets them around the ban. Also, The actual ban language was to “stop children from smoking.” I read the whole damn thing when it was passed, irritated the entire time. I do not consider most teens to be children.

    I’m not a regular smoker, far from it, but cloves have always been more popular with young adults, the college crowd, and we gothy types than any other group. It’s not like they can target young kids anyway, since the cigarettes kids pick up are those easiest to get a hold of, like those their family smokes, and tend to be the most popular brands. (My little sister is a prime example. She smokes menthols. Since she was a 11. She stole them from her grandmother.) Considering you don’t seen any sort of advertisement for cloves, they operate purely on word of mouth, and as such are not going to be as accessible or a temptation for children when they’re not the brand they can swipe from their mother’s/father’s/grandparent’s pocket/bag/purse/whatever, nor do they see them in print advertising or in pop culture. (There’s one movie I can think of where someone smoked cloves. ONE. How many with Marlboro, Camels, American Spirits, etc? TONS. Cloves are not the culprit. Duh. /preaching to choir.

  4. Boo on the FDA for banning cloves. What is the point of the WTO, if this kind of self-serving, ineffective, partial ban is permitted. I think it is kind of funny that menthols are now being marketed to men and women (and it is working).

  5. My understanding is that the FDA has pretty much sealed the borders on cloves. Importing while not covered under the law is effectively forbidden since the customs department has been told to sieze them at the border when found. You may get lucky and get some through, but it is a risk trying to import.

    The clove cigars really are cigars since they are wrapped in leaf. Good just not the same.

    Simply make your own. Not as tasty, but F the FDA. Can’t stop me from doing that. There are some sites online that will give you ideas for the mix.

  6. From what I have read, according to the Jakarta Globe, and other soucres, is that Indonesia won the discriminatory argument, but The WTO had stated that the ban was NOT unnecessary, but I did not read anything stating that the ban was absolutely necessary, either. However, the main thing is that the ban is discriminatory, and the WTO has stated that the US either needs to ban menthols, or repeal the ban altogether. The articles released from Indonesia had read completely different from US sources, though they had said the same thing.

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/wto-issues-mixed-ruling-on-us-indonesia-clove-cigarette-spat/463153

    http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridgesweekly/113562/

    http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/business/wto-torpedoes-us-ban-on-importation-of-kretek/463309

    So I think that there is a glimmer of hope for us. I don’t think the government is going to ban menthols.

  7. Any ideas on sites to order from? And for everyone House or Senate member that voted to ban cloves they can rest assured I will not be voting for them, that’s how serious it is for me.

  8. […] Back in September, the WTO agreed with Indonesia’s claim that the ban on clove cigarettes discrim….  The  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.”  The WTO, however, upheld the ban because it did not agree with Indonesia’s second contention that the ban was not necessary.  The WTO instead concluded that “there is extensive scientific evidence supporting the conclusion that banning clove and other flavored cigarettes could contribute to reducing youth smoking.” […]

  9. well there is a huge deficit of cloves right now, so the ban is surely good for non-American smokers

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