Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Health effects of smoking kreteks (clove cigarettes)

What are Kreteks?

Kretek is a cigarette-like product typically composed of 60 to 80 percent tobacco, 20 to 40 percent ground cloves, and other additives. It is often called clove cigarette. It is believed that the name kretek, which is the Indonesian word for the cigarettes, comes from the crackling sound the cloves make when they are burned.

Clove is known to reduce asthma because of which these cigarettes are sometimes believed to be safer alternatives to regular cigarettes. But they have been found to contain the same amounts or sometimes greater amounts of tar and nicotine. They are usually made in Indonesia and exported to other countries.

In visual appearance, a kretek looks similar to a plain tobacco cigarette, although sometimes they are rolled in black rather than white paper. Kretek cigarettes may be filtered or non-filtered. The distinguishable characteristic of a kretek is the aroma. Cloves have a distinguishable spicy, almost sweet scent to them and a burning kretek smells much like incense. Similarly, a kretek has a different flavor than traditional tobacco cigarettes because of the cloves.

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What are Cloves?

Cloves are the dried, unopened buds, of a tree that is a member of the myrtle or eucalyptus family. There is general disagreement among botanists about its proper genus and species. References are made to: Euqenia aromatica (the genus being named after Prince Eugene of Savoy' a patron of botany and horticulture), Eugenia caryaphyliata, Caiyophyllus aromaticus, Jambosa caryopbyuus, and Syzygium aromaticum. The tongue twister caryophyllus comes from the Greek word for the clove tree, karyopbyllon, from karyon, "nut," and phyllon, "I call" The closest the French could get to this was girop, which is their name for the clove tree - The English had trouble with the French word and changed it to -gilly flower." The French considered that cloves looked like nails. The French word for nail is clou so, in French, cloves are clow de girofle, from which our -clove."

The search for spices launched the Age of Exploration, and cloves were one of the most coveted export products produced by what is now Indonesia. Today, however, Indonesia consumes all of her own clove production-and then some. Although throughout the centuries cloves have been used for perfume, embalming, relieving tooth pains, sweetening breath, and, of course, spicing food, they are most popular today in the unique clove cigarette. With a pleasant smell almost of incense and a sweet, cool taste something like a mentholated cigarette, clove cigarettes arc Indonesia's favorite smoke.

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The origin of kretek cigarettes traces to the late 19th century. The creator of kretek was one Haji Jamahri, a native of the town of Kudus in Indonesia’s Central Java region. Suffering from chest pains, Haji Jamahri attempted to reduce the pain by rubbing clove oil on his chest. Jamahri sought a means of achieving a deeper relief and smoked his hand-rolled cigarettes after adding dried clove buds. According to the story, his asthma and chest pains vanished immediately. Word of Jamahri’s amazing discovery spread rapidly among his neighbors and the clove cigarettes soon became available in pharmacies under the name of rokok cengkeh – clove cigarettes. Although first discovered as a medicinal product, kreteks also became popular for the feeling of delight it offers.

In those years, the locals used to hand-roll kreteks to sell on order without any specific brand or packing. A resident of Kudus called Nitisemito had the brilliant idea of starting serial production and selling kreteks under a proprietary brand name. Unlike other manufacturers, Nitisemito who first created the Bal Tiga brand in 1906 enjoyed great success by implementing unprecedented marketing techniques such as using embossed packs or offering free-of-charge promotional materials.

Furthermore, he also developed a production system which was called as the abon system and which offered great opportunities for other entrepreneurs without enough capital. In this system, a person called as “abon” assumes the job of delivering finished products to the company which pays the price of piecework done whereas the company is liable to supply the necessary production materials to the “abons”. This system is important in terms of allowing for the employment of people who must remain home to care for the children and the elderly.

However, as industry improved, manufacturers who wanted to make sure of the high product quality and standards opted to have their workers working under the roof of their own factories. Nowadays, only several kretek manufacturers make use of the abon system.

During the period from 1960 until 1970, kreteks became a national symbol against “white cigarettes”. In mid 1980’s, the amount of machine-produced cigarettes exceeded the amount of hand-rolled ones. As one of the largest income sources of Indonesia, the kretek industry comprises 500 large and small manufacturers as well as 10 million employees.

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Clove cigarettes make a crackling noise as they burn and typically take longer to smoke than the average cigarette. They give off a strong scent of cloves mixed with tobacco and require smokers to draw more deeply when smoking. The cloves themselves contain eugenol, which is a numbing agent. Thus, smoking a clove cigarette may make the smoker's chest, lips and throat feel slightly numb.

Health Hazards

While the dangers presented by smoking regular cigarettes are widely known, the dangers of smoking clove cigarettes are not as prevalent. Many smokers assume that because the cigarettes contain a considerable amount of cloves, a natural spice, they aren't as risky as standard cigarettes. The truth, however, is that kreteks pose a greater health risk for smokers.

Some studies have shown that kreteks contain slightly less nicotine than normal cigarettes, owing to a portion of the tobacco being replaced by cloves. However, they do contain remarkably high quantities of tar - 35mg to 52.3mg tar per cigarette.

Kreteks also tend to be smoked more intensely and for a longer amount of time than normal cigarettes. The venous plasma nicotine and carbon monoxide levels from ten smokers were tested after smoking kreteks and were found to be similar to non-clove brands of cigarettes, such as Marlboro.

Although all tobacco is dangerous, the eugenol in clove cigarettes presents a significant health risk for many individuals. Inhaling eugenol, if you happen to be allergic to it, can result in a severe reaction that can send you into respiratory distress. In addition, the anesthetic effects of eugenol allow smokers to inhale more deeply and hold cigarette smoke in their lungs for longer periods of time, introducing greater amounts of toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. In her book "An Invitation to Health," Dianne Hales states that eugenol itself has cancer-causing properties. Thus, clove cigarette smokers may suffer a greater risk of cancer than those who smoke regular cigarettes.

Smoking clove cigarettes is associated with acute lung injury. The possible types of lung injury caused by clove cigarettes include decreased oxygen absorption by the lung tissue, inflammation and fluid collection in the lungs. The risk of acute lung injury is especially elevated in people who already have lung diseases, such as asthma or a lung infection.

The CDC also reports that those who smoke clove cigarettes are 13 to 20 times more likely to have an increased risk of abnormal lung function. The above-mentioned acute lung injury, over time, can lead to abnormal lung function, which includes reduced airflow in and out of the lungs and/or decreased ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen from the air. The main symptom that abnormal lung function causes is difficulty breathing.

Ingestion of clove oil, which is naturally present in cloves, is associated with increased risk of bleeding. MedlinePlus, an online medical encyclopedia associated with the U.S. National Library of Health, notes that this risk is based largely on laboratory research. Thus, they recommend that people with bleeding disorders or those who take drugs that can increase risk of bleeding be especially careful when ingesting clove oil.

MedlinePlus adds that ingestion of clove oil by smoking comes with the risk of multiple possible side effects. These side effects include sore throat; seizures; sleepiness; nausea, vomiting, and/or vomiting blood; kidney failure and liver injury or failure. It is highly recommended that people susceptible to seizures, liver or kidney disease avoid smoking clove cigarettes.

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Legal Considerations

In the United States, kreteks have been the subject of legal restrictions and political debate, including a proposed 2004 US Senate bill that would have prohibited cigarettes from having a "characterising flavor" of certain ingredients other than tobacco and menthol. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found kreteks account for a relatively small percentage of underage smoking, and their use was declining among high school students. Critics of the bill argued that support of the bill by the large U.S. tobacco maker Philip Morris, which makes only conventional and menthol cigarettes, indicated that the bill was an attempt to protect the company from competition.

Some U.S. states, including Utah, New Mexico, and Maryland, have passed laws that prohibit the sale of kreteks. A report in the St. Petersburg Times notes that the state of Florida banned the use of clove cigarettes in 1985 due to the fact that they contain about twice the nicotine and toxin levels of standard tobacco cigarettes.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned the sale of "flavored" cigarettes. Clove cigarettes fell into this category and were immediately pulled from retailers' shelves. The law aims to reduce the number of children and young adults who become addicted to tobacco through flavored cigarettes. Because the law only applies to cigarettes and not other tobacco products, clove cigarette manufacturers repackaged the cigarettes and began marketing them as "cigarillos" to get around the flavored tobacco ban.

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Kretek cigarettes are not a safe smoking alternative. Any product that must be lit, burned and inhaled is hazardous to delicate lung tissue and other organs in our bodies. And kretek smokers face the same risk of nicotine addiction that conventional smokers do. According to some studies, kreteks might be even more dangerous for some individuals with severe allergic reaction to the specific components of these cigarettes.

Sources and Additional Information:

1 comment:

  1. Clove cigarettes make a crackling noise as they burn and typically take longer to smoke than the average cigarette.more knowledge here
    Natural Effects Of Cloves


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