- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
That’s what Indonesia is arguing:
Indonesia says the United States is abusing health regulations to shut out clove cigarettes, known as kretek and very popular in the southeast Asian country, while allowing U.S. manufacturers to continue to market menthol cigarettes.
U.S. officials say that flavoured tobaccos risk attracting young people to smoking, and that the ban applies to clove cigarettes from all countries and so is not discriminatory.
A meeting of the WTO’s dispute settlement body agreed to set up a panel to rule on the dispute, the sources said.
I’m not sure about the trade rules, but the clove ban does seem somewhat inconsequential. Cloves made up less than .01 of the cigarettes smoked in the U.S. in 2008, so arguing that they’re a uniquely dangerous gateway for young smokers seems like a tough case to make. On the other hand, with the possible exception of our nation’s MFA programs and the staff of Reason magazine, there hasn’t been a whole lot of backlash. Menthols, meanwhile, accounted for 28 percent of U.S. consumption, so banning them would presumably have been a much tougher political move domestically.