Tobacco groups ask Obama to challenge Canadian ban
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Philip Morris International joined with U.S. tobacco industry groups on Thursday to ask President Barack Obama's administration to challenge Canada's new law banning flavored cigarettes and small cigars.
Their request comes even as the administration takes its own steps to ban candy, clove and other flavored cigarettes.
"Canada's ban on blended cigarettes violates its WTO (World Trade Organization) obligations and could impose serious economic hardship on U.S. growers of burley tobacco," Roger Quarles, president of the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association, said in a statement.
"We are asking USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) to review our arguments and to take a strong stand for U.S. burley growers and American jobs," he said.
Philip Morris, which markets its tobacco products in approximately 160 countries, joined the burley growers and several other tobacco associations in asking USTR to press Canada on the issue at a WTO meeting on "technical" trade barriers next week in Geneva.
Canada's new law banning the manufacture, importation and sale of most flavored cigarettes and small cigars went into effect earlier this month.
Anti-smoking groups said the fruit-flavored cigarettes were marketed like candy to lure young smokers, but the industry complained the law was too broad and would unfairly restrict importation of U.S.-grown burley tobacco.
Aiming to pressure the Obama administration to take up the issue, Republican Senator Jim Bunning from the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky has blocked the six-month-old nomination of Miriam Sapiro as deputy U.S. trade representative.
A spokeswoman for USTR was not immediately available on Thursday to comment on the issue. Continued...