Friday, June 12, 2009

Sale of Kretek Banned in America

To anyone who has lived in or visited Indonesia, the country that was once called home by President Barack Obama, the smell of a burning kretek or clove cigarette is a poignant reminder of the exotic smells that permeate that country.

Well, clove cigarette smoke, mixed with the smell of burning kerosene lamps, barbecueing satay . . . and sweat.

So it became somewhat of a novelty to me today when I read in the news that among the things that HR 1256, the tobacco bill that just passed both houses of Congress and is en route to Barack Obama’s desk for his signature, is the ban on the sale of clove cigarettes.

Because clove cigarettes, a rarity here, are among the classification of sweetened cigarettes that appeal to children.

The whole gamut of provisions within HR 1256 are listed at MSNBC’s website. Among them, they write this:

“Smokers, particularly the younger crowd, will find they can no longer buy cigarettes sweetened by candy flavors or any herb or spices such as strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon or vanilla.”

Indonesians love their clove cigarettes. Everyone who smokes there smoke clove cigarettes. It is a huge industry. As a matter of fact the maker of the most popular brand of kretek, Djarum, employs over 75,000 people at its factories. They have over 250,000 hectares of arable land planted in tobacco and the nicotine levels in the tobacco varies depending on where the tobacco grows. One Djarum brand is known to have the highest concentration of nicotine in the world.

And one more fun fact about clove cigarettes. Indonesia, known to Europeans in a bygone era as “The Spice Islands,” uses so many cloves to produce their cigarettes that it is a net importer of that spice.

But like I said, you don’t smell it very often around here And I guess websites like this one will have to stop selling and shipping Djarum to America

And it’s about time.


Anonymous said...

I wish President Obama would completely outlaw cigarettes. We have laws that require us to wear seatbelts in cars to protect us and many other laws to protect us.

Why do we allow cigarettes to continue to be legal?

Maybe becuse they are a source of substantial tax revenue and political contributions? No, it couldn't be that could it?

Hal said...

Speaking as one who has lost family to the evil weed I would like to see it banned as well. However I am tempered by the sure and certain knowledge that banning cigarettes would only start a black market trade that would dwarf cocaine and marijuana smuggling.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like their main justification for this bill is so that kids don't start smoking. The idea that clove cigarettes are responsible for starting smoking habits is ludicrous.

I'll bet your family members who did smoke would want you to get out of their business about it. Its an individual's right to determine whether they want to do to their body, not family members or government.

Hal said...

All except for the fact that nicotine addiction is among the worse things to have encountered. I tried for years to get my family members to quit. To no avail. Nicotine adictition is too powerful. To that end the individual has no power to decide what they want to do with their habit. Free will has no voice here.

But that is, in the end the Libertarian limit. They do not understand how humans work.

Anonymous said...

"the individual has no power to decide what they want to do with their habit"

Really? What about those that do quit? My father smoked for years and quit. I never knew he had no power to do so--even a more amazing accomplishment--he did even though he had no power to do so?

Anonymous said...

Victims, victims, victims...

No personal accountability at all...

Kevin said...

I think that the banning of cigarette smoking in public places makes sense, because we are protecting our non-smoking citizens from second-hand smoke. But the banning of cigarettes altogether is an outrageous curtailment of freedom with no justification. I happen to like an occasional clove cigarette, and it harms no one but me. Children definitely should not be allowed to purchase these products - but that law is already in place. I am not a child, and would prefer that overreaching zealots not tell me what I can and cannot do with my own body.

And I voted for Obama, by the way. I'm not anti-government and I vote socially liberal. But we've got to draw the line somewhere.

Anonymous said...

If you dont know smoking is bad your not very bright, all this is to me is another way the government is telling you what to do. People dont need more antismoking ads, i cant turn on the tv without seeing another lame truth commercial. Ive lost 2 family members to smoking. It was their choice as adults.

Hal said...

Where you are dead wrong (pun intended), Anon, is the thing about choice. Once it was discovered that tobacco companies were genetically engineering tobacco plants to increase their nicotine content - to ensure severe addiction - they started losing in court.

That is the purpose of the bill, to keep people - children, really - from starting a lifelong habit that they are mostly powerless to quit.

Quinn said...

As a occasional smoker of cigars and flavored tobaccos such clove cigarretes, I am apalled at the fact that the government and ultimately the American people as a whole would think it right to regulate what I do as an adult.

The justification that it's somehow "for the children" is a stupid one, what ever happened to letting parents raise there children? What we should do is throw parents in jail for allowing there kids to smoke under the age of 18?

I hope Obama makes the decision to veto the thing, though I doubt that will happen.

Hal said...

Signed it.

It's now the law.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid law! A pack of clove cigarettes here cost $8.00, a pack of Camels $5.50. I sure don't see kids smoking cloves, that's for sure. Ah, but if they smoke Camels, that's good old American grown tobacco. We send our jobs to India, but won't import their goods!?! All I can say is God bless America where it will be legal to smoke marijuana, but not cloves.

Anonymous said...

Congress would be “blatantly favoring a domestically produced product over an imported one” if it bans cloves and not menthol, Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, Indonesia’s ambassador to the U.S.

Menthol-flavored products account for about 28 percent of all cigarettes sold in the U.S., compared with 0.09 percent for clove cigarettes.

Oh yeah, that's really going to help! Meanwhile, 4 million Indonesia clove farmers may lose a market.

Expect this to go before the World Trade Organization as discrimination.

Anonymous said...

Seriously. Clove cigarettes? As a casual smoker of clove cigarettes(and cigars..bidis..), this bill is a joke. I smoked them when I was a teen. I've never smoked a regular cigarette in my life, they are nasty compared to good tobacco in good cigars and cigarettes. Big Brother is telling us what we can and cannot do. If there is a time where all cigarettes were banned, we'd end up with a black market just as we do with weed. Why not legalize and regulate weed. Let people consume what they want. We know the consequences. Whats next to be banned, burger chains? Lets ban alcohol while we are at it, since most teens favor flavored vodka instead of the real deal.

Anonymous said...

It's about time?


We supposedly live in a free country! If individuals want to make choices which harm their health, they have the right to do so. A clove cigarette? Fine.

I guess you then agree that, if cloves should be illegal, then ALL ALCOHOL should be illegal again too. Do you?

And all GUNS. Do you?

And all automobiles as well. Why? Do you know how many cars and motorcycles are the cause of death in this country? DO YOU?

Ban one innocuous thing and the rest of the cards fall....

I know you are under 30 years old.....because otherwise, you'd understand this better.

Anonymous said...

I smoke clove cigarettes about 4 times a year. Otherewise I am a non smoker. I see it as a special treat. I am upset t hat it is outlawed. Children will smoke cigarettes not because they taste good but because they feels it is a cool thing to do. This law does not benefit the children it just punishes the adults.

Hal said...

Oh I understand this issue, Anon. I understand it too well. I understand it every time I stand in front of the wall that contains my mother's ashes.

Cigarettes didn't kill my mother. Her lack of choice killed her. If she had a choice she would have quit smoking back when that surgeon general's report came out in the 60's. But nicotine had her.

I'm sorry Anon, your argument fell apart when you used the word "choice."

Anonymous said...

If the bill had proposed a ban on all tobacco products, it never would have passed.

This ban isn't to prevent children from smoking, it's to eliminate competition. When menthol and "mint-flavored" tobacco is banned, I'll reconsider my position.

& Hal, do you think alcohol and caffeine should also be banned? I mean, both are addictive and cause deaths annually, so why not?

Actually, maybe the next bill should ban fast food restaurants. After all, isn't our morbidly obese country eating itself to death?

I doubt you have any issues with people drinking alcohol, consuming caffeine, or picking up a bucket of KFC. I mean, if your mother had been addicted to food, would you refuse to eat?

Either way, this ban isn't about addiction, it's about protecting children from something they don't enjoy in the first place.

If you know anything about teenagers, you'd know two things; most don't smoke and the ones that do either smoke reds [considered to be full FLAVORED] or menthols [considered to be mint FLAVORED.]

I doubt many of them would commit social suicide by smoking cherry cloves. It'd be like drinking juice at a kegger.

Anonymous said...

I started smoking cigarettes, the regular "manly" kind when I was a kid. I didn't start smoking clove cigarettes until well into adulthood and I continue smoking them to this day. Soon I will have to illegally import them, and frankly, I'm fine with that, I was doing it about half the time anyway to avoid the ludicrous taxes that people like you and the nanny state you generate support.

Americans need to stop going to the government for help with every social woe they perceive. You cannot purchase cigarettes if you are under 18, so why is it that flavored cigarettes are any more suspect than the unflavored kind? If we're to follow the justification that people shouldn't sell vices that appeal to teenagers we should also ban the sale of "sweet flavored alcoholic beverages." Then again, I'm pretty sure that Coors Light is the "gateway beverage" to underaged drinking, so we should ban that too, just to be sure.

This logic is ridiculous. All smokers know cigarettes are bad for them, and most know they're addicted to them. It's a choice all smokers have made and live with. Sometime during the 90s it was deemed socially unacceptable to smoke by a bunch of left-leaning middle-aged vegetarians who were offended that people were allowed to smoke inside bars they didn't go to anyway, and settled for saying that a ban made sense to "protect employees," even though all of those employees also smoked. I, however, have hit a tangent of being angry at people infringing upon the rights of business owners and adults from being able to choose to indulge in habits that only harm those who willfully expose themselves to them in a concentrated manner (like bar patrons).

The real point is that if you want to start legislating things to protect the health of children and teenagers, you should focus on the things that will have a more significant long-term impact on their health. High-fructose corn-syrup, fast food (the "happy meal"), and a lack of compulsory physical education in schools are likely to cause obesity, which is a significantly larger health problem over the course of one's life than a smoking habit. A lack of mental stimulus caused by non-interactive entertainment increases risk of Alzhiemer's, but you don't see anyone banning TV.

Leave the state to protect us from people with knives and guns. Leave us to take care of ourselves otherwise.

Hal said...

Of all the postings I have ever written, this is by far the most commented upon. It is very rare in the US, but people smoke clove cigarettes here, and they also pay attention on the internets.

I don't know what to say to you all. Some of you are addicts and some of you are occasional smokers of the black weed. To me, I want the madness of tobacco smoking to end. I have lost family to the evil weed. People say that they chose their course but court documents belie that idea.

I want to eradicate tobacco smoking on this planet. I have encountered the lure of nicotine but not to the extent of becoming hooked. I will say this once and no more. If this bill prevents one teen from taking up the habit, it is a good thing. I am sorry that it took away a favorite pastime of yours, but that is sometimes the price of advance. Loss of pleasure.

This is the last comment on this posting. I will reject all subsequent comments. You have made your point.

I just simply beg to disagree.

Panditya said...

You can buy Djarum Black Cigarettes at
I have bought some cigarettes from the site, good service, it only takes 5 days for delivery

Hal said...

Enjoy your short, short life, Panditya. I lost a mother to cigarettes many years ago. Given the genetics, she would be alive today had she not been victimized by tobacco and the tobacco industry.

But you go. Suck on those sticks of death. Go in peace.