WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Obama administration and Democrats expressed dismay at the World Trade Organization (WTO) report that ruled the U.S. ban on some flavored cigarettes is discriminatory, Congressional Quarterly reports. The president and Democrats indicated that they would try to maintain the prohibition.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forbade clove and sweet-flavored cigarettes to lower tobacco usage among minors. Last September, the WTO supported a panel ruling that said the ban infringed upon a trade agreement by singling out Indonesia clove cigarette makers. The Indonesia companies object to having their products outlawed, while menthol cigarettes€"mostly manufactured by U.S. businesses€"are exempt. Menthol cigarettes are mostly smoked by adults.
"Importantly, the law made no distinction in where a cigarette is manufactured because a cigarette €" no matter where it is made €" is addictive and deadly," said Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), who is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "I believe the WTO€™s interpretation is wrong on the merits and wrong in its interference with our efforts to protect the American public from tobacco€™s devastating effects."
The report from WTO has little impact on the ban. "The United States is very disappointed with the outcome of this dispute," said Nkenge Harmon, spokeswoman for the Trade Representative. "The ban on cigarettes with flavors is part of landmark U.S. legislation to combat the public health crisis caused by tobacco products. The Obama administration is committed to protecting the public health and will continue to vigorously pursue public health measures in a way that is consistent with United States trade obligations."