The kretek , often called cigarettes clove , are cigarettes Indonesian made of a complex mixture of tobacco , of clove and a “sauce” aromatic. They were invented in Java around 1880 and conquered 90% of the country’s smokers. Their name is an onomatopoeia reproducing the crackling that cloves make when they burn in the cigarette. The end of these cigarettes or their filter is usually sweet.


It was for medicinal purposes that, in the early 1880s, Haji Jamahri, suffering from asthma , invented the kreteks: it was a question of diffusing in the lungs the eugenol contained in the clove. The remedy relieved his chest pains, he began to market his invention in the local pharmacies of his city, Kudus . However, he died in 1890 before taking advantage of the commercial potential of his invention. Thereafter, it is Mr. Nitisemito, a self-taught, who initiated the kretek industry during the first quarter of the twentieth century 1 .

Nitisemito had the idea to mix the ingredients and pack the cigarettes to sell as a finished product under a defined brand name. He tried a number of names before choosing the Bal Tiga brand name and in 1906 he set up his own company, named Bal Tiga Nitisemito 1 .


According to the Indonesian Cigarette Producers’ Association, there were 730 registered kretek cigarette producers in Java 2 in the sector .

During the 1990s, kretek factories employed women for rolling by hand and men for cigarettes rolled by machine 2 .

Today, kretek factories account for 180,000 jobs in Indonesia, and they alone account for 95 percent of the world’s clove production. The two largest manufacturers of kreteks are currently Sampoerna and Gudang Garam. In France, the only brands marketed are Djarum and Gudang Garam [ref. insufficient] , they are only available in a few tobacconists only, in some cigar humidors or at the Indonesian embassy located at 47-49, rue Cortambert in Paris.

Health effects

Compared effects of kreteks on health compared to conventional cigarettes remain uncertain. Studies have shown that despite the lower [dubious information] [?] Nicotine content of kreteks, they release more in the blood than conventional cigarettes. The nicotine and carbon monoxide content in blood plasma does not seem to be different depending on whether kreteks or conventional cigarettes are consumed 4 . Kreteks contain 2,490 to 37,900  μg of eugenol per cigarette and some brands of kreteks contain from 9.2 to 215  mcg of coumarin per cigarette 5 (for the European Food Safety Authority (efsa), the acceptable daily intake is100  mcg · kg -1 body weight).


  1. ↑ a and b in ) Sander L. Gilman and Xun Zhou , Smoke: A Global History of Smoking , Reaktion Books, ( ISBN  9781861892003 , read online  [ archive ] )
  2. ↑ a and b Employment Trends in the Tobacco Sector: Challenges and Prospects. TMETS Report / 2003 , International Labor Organization, ( ISBN  9789222134250 , read online  [ archive ] )
  3. ↑;jsessionid=?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000023336897  [ archive ]
  4. ↑ ( in ) Clark GC, ” Comparison of the inhalation toxicity of kretek (clove cigarette) smoke With That of American cigarette smoke. I . One day exposure ” , Arch Toxicol , vol.  63, o 1,p.  1-6 ( PMID  2742495 ) edit
  5. ↑ ( in ) Gregory M. Polzin, Stephen B. Stanfill, Candace R. Brown, David L. Ashley, Clifford H. Watson , ” Determination of eugenol, anethole, and coumarin in the mainstream cigarette smoke of Indonesian clove cigarettes ” , Food and Chemical Toxicology , vol.  45, o 10,p.  1948-1953 ( ISSN  0278-6915 )