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Toke, Toke, Toke that Cigarette

Indonesian Clove Cigarette Producers Suggest More than Just the Air is Being Fouled by U.S. Government Moves to Ban Popular Scented Indonesian Cigarettes.

(5/25/2009) The U.S. government is moving to ban the use of cigarette flavorings as a step to discourage teenagers from taking up smoking. Cherry, chocolate and clove additives will be banned if legislation being considered by the U.S. Senate is passed. Specifically exempted from the proposed ban, after intense lobbying by the U.S. tobacco industry, is the used of mint-flavored menthol cigarettes such as Marlboro Smooth.

As anyone who has ever visited Indonesia can confirm, the distinctive pervasive smell of burning cloves mixed with Indonesian tobacco greets the nose wherever Indonesian's gather to 'light up' their overwhelmingly preferred tobacco product. So large, in fact, is the Indonesian clove cigarette industry that Indonesia holds the distinction of being both the largest producer as well as the largest importer of cloves in the world; all needed to feed the almost insatiable demand for clove-laced smokes.

The Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S.A., Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, has gone on record condemning the proposed legislation as 'blatantly favoring a domestically produced product over an imported one' if the legislation allows menthol flavoring to the exclusion of other flavorings, such as cloves.

The potential for the matter to become increasingly incendiary in the months ahead is the threat from the Indonesian government to bring the matter to the World Trade Organization which could jeopardize the $22 billion-a-year trade relationship with Indonesia.

Indonesia exports an estimated US$500 million in clove or Kretek cigarettes every year, with approximately 20% of that total destined for U.S. markets.