Clove Cigarette Ban Upheld by WTO Panel

World Trade Organization panel rejects Indonesia claim that U.S. ban is "unnecessary"

Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

GENEVA -- The World Trade Organization (WTO) Friday issued a mixed ruling in a case filed by Indonesia against the United States regarding its ban on clove cigarettes.

Indonesia claims included that the U.S. ban on clove cigarettes signed into law in June 2009 was unnecessary and that it was discriminatory because it outlaws cloves, but not mint used to make menthol cigarettes.

"The 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 judges said in their report.

The panel, however, rejected Indonesia's claim that the ban is unnecessary, citing that Indonesia failed to demonstrate that the ban is "more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfill a legitimate objective" of reducing youth smoking.

"The Panel's conclusion was based, in part, on its finding that there is extensive scientific evidence supporting the conclusion that banning clove and other flavoured cigarettes could contribute to reducing youth smoking."

For a summary of key findings of the report, please click here.