Clove cigars close but not cigarettes..

Kretek - crackling sound of burning cloves.
October 27, 2009 - On June 22, 2009 President Barack Obama signed into law an anti-smoking bill that gives the FDA greater power to regulate tobacco. (President Obama signs bill for FDA to regulate tobacco..)

The most immediate change was that cigarette flavorings including clove except menthol will be banned, beginning on September 22, 2009. Analysts said that part of the law will have little impact since most manufacturers abandoned candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes in recent years. (More on FDA tobacco regulations..)

Big tobacco really did not mind taking these flavored cigarettes of the market. These cigarettes were not even one percent of the market. The three biggest U.S. tobacco companies say they do not produce any flavored cigarettes other than menthol varieties. Cloves for example was less than a tenth of one percent of the U.S. cigarette consumption.

Indonesia vows to take the matter to the World Trade Organization if the proposed ban becomes law. Indonesia’s ambassador to the U.S. Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat: Congress would be “blatantly favoring a domestically produced product over an imported one” if it bans cloves and not menthol. (Indonesia - dispute with U.S. over banning the use of clove in cigarettes..)

Kretek International (KI), the nation's top distributor of clove cigarettes (97 percent of U.S. market) is offering fans a new way to get their fix after the spice-flavored cigarettes are banned. The New Clove Cigars. The new filtered cigars—close to the size of a cigarette and flavored with clove, vanilla and cherry—allow KI, which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia, to avoid new federal laws banning flavored cigarettes other than menthol. (U.S. - Importer tries to get around clove cigarettes ban..)

The ban on flavored cigarettes, which critics say appeal to teenagers, doesn't include cigars. We wonder why the authors of the new tobacco regulations law did not ban all flavored tobacco products. In addition to cigars these include all types of snuff and dissolvable tobacco products like flavored pellets, toothpicks and edible strips that are placed on the tongue like Listerine breath strips. These are the tobacco items that will immediately catch the attention of our children. We should have learned from the problems the Canadians have had with kids smoking little cigars. During 2007, about 25 percent of that country's 15 to 17-year-olds smoked mini-cigars (cigarillos). (Canadian House of Commons passes bill to prevent production of mini-cigars or cigarillos..) Canada has now passed a bill banning flavored tobacco products..)

This same mistake was made in the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998. There was an agreement for cigarette producers and a weaker agreement for non-smoking tobacco producers. For the latter, only one company signed the agreement - UST, Inc - now part of the Altria Group.

KI has filed suit in federal court to prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning flavored cigars. The tobacco law allows the FDA to regulate cigars but requires the agency to first issue regulations deeming cigars to be subject to the law, a process that could take years. But Lawrence Deyton, Director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, explained that the federal definition of a cigarette includes "any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper," suggesting certain cigars could immediately fall under the ban. (A cigar - any roll of tobacco wrapped in tobacco.)

A cigar is a tobacco leaf wrapped around a tobacco leaf filling. KI noted that the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau classified its Djarum clove-flavored cigars as cigars under federal law in 2007. "The difference between cigarettes and cigars has been clearly defined by standing law for more than 30 years," the company said. Mr. Geoghegan has stated that KI has been importing clove-flavored cigars for several years, but because of the banning of market shipments of Djarum cigarettes, distributor and retailer focus on Kretek's cigars has taken additional prominence." He said the company didn't just start importing cigars to get around the ban on flavored cigarettes. (Kretek International filed suit to prevent FDA from banning flavored cigars..)

Reefrence: To the FDA, This Indonesian Smoke Is Close but No Cigar With Ban on Clove Cigarettes, Importer Claims Its Product Is All Stogie by BARRY NEWMAN, The Wall Street Journal, 10/27/2009.