WTO Investigates U.S. Ban On Clove Cigarettes

GENEVA (AP) -- The World Trade Organization has launched a formal investigation into whether U.S. tobacco control laws are illegally preventing imports of clove-flavored cigarettes from Indonesia.

The Asian country says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ban on manufacturing, importing, marketing and distributing candy-, fruit- and clove-flavored tobacco breaks trade rules because it exempts menthol cigarettes, most of which are made in the United States.

Washington says its laws aim to prevent pediatric disease in young Americans, as well as cancer, heart disease and other health problems. It says the ban is legal because it doesn't specifically target Indonesian clove cigarettes.

The WTO will rule on the matter sometime next year.

Indonesia claims over 6 million of its people depend on the production of clove cigarettes.