What you need to know about Clove Cigarettes 


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Page last updated: 20/03/2020

Clove Cigarettes

You’ve probably heard countless times about clove cigarettes and wondered what the benefits and consequences of these types of cigarettes are.

In this post, we bust myths and find what are the health risks of smoking clove cigarettes.

Definition of clove cigarettes

Clove cigarettes are considered by many smokers as more natural and healthy types of cigarettes.

They are also called kreteks and indeed do not contain as many chemicals as the traditional cigarettes do. 

The kretek’s composition is 80% tobacco, and 20% clove oil and other additives.

The origin of kreteks it’s Indonesia, also the largest manufacturer and exporter of cloves cigarettes. 

Are kreteks healthier than traditional cigarettes or is this a myth? Keep reading to find out.

Health risks of clove cigarettes

Kreteks are very popular, especially among young people.

But are clove cigarettes healthier than the traditional cigarettes? 

The short answer is no, kreteks are not necessarily healthier that the traditional American cigarette.

Clove cigarettes contain twice as much nicotine as the traditional tobacco. 

Among its composition, this type of cigarette also contains a large amount of eugenol.

This is an anaesthetic agent found in cloves that reduces the bitterness of a cigarette, and falsely gives the illusion of a healthier tobacco.

Clove cigarettes users oftentimes say the reason they like these types of cigarettes is because of the eugenol, that allows them to inhale longer and more deeply. 

However, this substance is not by far harmless. 

Clove cigarettes smokers are at a high risk of developing lung infections, heart diseases, cancer of the oral cavity or the esophagus, and other allergic reactions just like all the traditional smokers do.

Furthermore, smoking clove cigarettes in large doses can also potentiate some dangerous side effects such as:

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • An accelerated heartbeat and accelerated breathing
  • Bronchospasms and lungs injuries 
  • Mouth or throat burns
  • Insomnia

This list is not exhaustive, and anyone experiencing these symptoms should get seen by a doctor as soon as possible. 

Although there isn’t a large quantity of research available, it is well known that the use of clove cigarettes is linked to acute lung injuries. 

Research studies from Indonesia indicate that regular clove cigarettes users are 20 times at more risk of developing lung problems than non-smokers. 20 is a concerning number. 

What is clove oil?

Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol. In 1837, eugenol and magnesium oxide were combined to create a filling material.

Since the 19th century, eugenol has been one of many essential oil components to be used in root canal therapy, periodontal therapy, and to treat abscesses.

While clove oil is usually safe when applied to the skin, repeated use inside the mouth and on the gums can have side effects.

Side effects may include damage to the:

  • gums
  • tooth pulp — the central part of the tooth which is made of connective tissue and cells
  • the skin on the inside of the mouth
  • mucous membranes inside of the mouth

Clove oil is also used in making clove cigarettes, and it’s widely considered a “natural” ingredient, therefore safer.

The belief that a cigarette composed of 80% tobacco and 20% clove oil is healthier than the classic cigarette, is just a myth. 

The smoke from all the cigarettes, no matter how healthy you may consider them to be, can seriously damage your health and the passive inhaler’s health as well. 

A cigarette’s smoke has many chemicals and particles such as carbon monoxide, that increases one’s risk of developing cancer and lung abnormalities.

Yes, even the smoke of the most natural cigarette out there has tar and carbon monoxide. 

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was introduced in the US Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, giving the FDA significantly more regulatory power over tobacco; one of the provisions in the law includes a ban on the use of flavors in tobacco, other than menthol.

The ban includes kreteks. 

The US’ Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, banned the production and sale of clove and most other flavored cigarettes in the United States in the hopes of discouraging young people from smoking.  

The Tobacco Control Act puts in place specific restrictions on marketing tobacco products to children and gives FDA authority to take further action in the future to protect public health.

These provisions ban:

  • sales to minors
  • vending machine sales*
  • the sale of packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes
  • tobacco-brand sponsorships of sports and entertainment events or other social or cultural events
  • free giveaways of sample cigarettes and brand-name non-tobacco promotional items

On the other hand, Kretek cigarettes are among others sold in Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, etc. In Europe only smaller packs and thinner cigarettes are sold to adhere to the EU established maximum amount of nicotine and tar levels.

In South Africa, they are also sold in smaller packs of 10 with between 10–12 mg tar, and 1-1.2 mg nicotine.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of clove cigarettes and exports up to US$500 million of the product a year.

Amongst the most known brands that sell clove cigarettes are: Djarum Black, Gudang Garam, Dunhill, Marlboro, and others.

Djarum Black

Djarum Black is an Indonesian brand of kretek (clove) cigarettes and cigars, currently owned and manufactured by Djarum.

According to Wikipedia, the cigarette itself is black, flavored paper.

The cigarette features a clove flavor both in scent and taste, and the paper has a sweet taste.

It is made with natural Indonesian tobacco and is widely distributed throughout the world.

Gudang Garam

Gudang Garam is Indonesia’s fifth-largest tobacco manufacturer, with a market share of about 20%. Gudang Garam International is a native Indonesian clove cigarette brand, which was launched on November 3, 1979, in Kediri, East Java.

Gait length in the kretek industry is characterized by a number of achievements, among others, was ranked second in the category rolled cigarettes “full flavor”.

Dunhill clove cigarettes

Dunhill Fine Cut Mild is the first clove cigarette made by Dunhill International.

These mild cigarettes feature finely cut premium Indonesia cloves and high-quality Dunhill tobacco for a taste experience beyond the ordinary. 

Marlboro clove cigarettes

Marlboro Filter Black is Philip Morris’ first attempt on manufacturing clove cigarettes under the Marlboro banner in Indonesia. 

Said to offer an alternative taste for adult smokers, Clove Mix features a unique blend of premium tobaccos and cloves.

According to PMI, the cigarettes provide a “full and satisfying smoking experience”, offering a sweet taste and fragrant aroma.


Clove cigarettes are not a safe smoking alternative. 

The false image of these products as clean, natural, and safer than regular cigarettes seems to attract some young people who might otherwise not start smoking.

But they are not safer than cigarettes, and researchers are looking into whether the cloves might even cause additional problems.

Smoking clove cigarettes can increase the risk of lung infections, respiratory illness, and allergic reactions in some smokers, especially those with existing lung sensitivities. 

Although clove cigarettes are banned in the USA, many smokers can still order them online.

Many are still unaware of the negative consequences of smoking clove cigarettes.

Make sure you are informed about the health risks before making a decision. 

Please feel free to leave your questions and thoughts in the comments section below. 

FAQ about Clove Cigarettes

What is the point of clove cigarettes?

Clove cigarettes contain a substance called eugenol, which allows the kretek smoker to inhale longer and more deeply.

This cigarettes numb the throat against the harshness of tobacco smoke.

Are clove cigarettes bad?

Clove cigarettes are as bad as any other type of cigarettes are there.

They contain nicotine and many cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. 

Why do people start smoking?

Most people start smoking during their teenage years or as a young adult.

There are many reasons why a person starts to smoke.

For some teens, it is a way to rebel against their parents.

Other teens may feel pressure from their friends and begin smoking in order to get accepted in a group.

Can you still buy clove cigarettes in the US?

You can still buy clove cigarettes in the US.

You can purchase them online since the law addresses the sale of these cigarettes only in the US.

The law also doesn’t ban private citizens from possessing and smoking clove cigarettes.

Is there a healthy cigarette?

There are no healthy cigarettes or a type that is safe than others. 

Smoke from all the cigarettes has many chemicals that can cause cancer, and toxins that come from burning the tobacco itself, including tar and carbon monoxide.

Is clove oil poisonous?

Clove oil is not believed to be poisonous, however, consuming clove oil can be dangerous for children and may lead to seizures, liver damage, and fluid imbalances.


  1. Kretek: The Culture and Heritage of Indonesia’s Clove Cigarettes
  2. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Read this book and you’ll never smoke a cigarette again 
  3. The Easyway for Women to Stop Smoking (Allen Carr’s Easyway)
  4. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Quit Emotional Eating: Set yourself free from binge-eating and comfort-eating
  5. How to Quit Smoking: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Smoking Now with Easy Step-by-Step Instructions to Give Up Smoking for Life and Never Be a Heavy Smoker Again


  1. Hazards of Clove Cigarettes – Committee on Substance Abuse, August 1991
  2. Facts About Clove Cigarettes – VeryWell Mind
  3. Clove cigarettes. The basis for concern regarding health effects. – Guidotti, 1989

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