Marlboro Launches Clove Cigarette in Indonesia

Country has 140 million smokers. 90% want kreteks

Cigarettes are bad for you. Just about everybody and his passive-smoker dog know that by now, and the cigarette companies are hard-pressed to find new markets.

Somebody at Marlboro had an idea and now Philip Morris International, maker of the famous cowboy-branded brand, has launched a clove cigarette in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the fifth-biggest tobacco market, fifth only to China, the U.S., Russia, and Japan. And while smoking, Indonesians adore clove cigarettes, which simultaneously numb their throats and deliver that nicotine kick. They rather scorn regular smokes, which they call "whites".

Now that Americans and Europeans are, gradually, turning up their noses at the habit, Indonesia stands out for its taste for tobacco - and gigantic potential.

Last year Philip Morris bought the controlling interest in Sampoerna from the Sampoerna family, prompting speculation that the billionaire business barons had scented the end of an era approaching. The American company paid $5.2 billion, the largest takeover deal ever by a foreign investor in Indonesia.

Almost two-thirds of adult males in this country of 230 million people smoke and growing numbers of females are joining them, Reuters quoted analysts.

Not only do Indonesians smoke a lot: 90% of them choose kreteks, which are cigarettes in which the tobacco is blended with cloves and another flavoring sauce. Americans are more familiar with the spice in their apple pie. Now Indonesians have a Marlboro version.

The Indonesian word kretek is an onomatopoeia for the crackling sound of burning cloves, acc Wikipedia.

The Marlboro Mix 9 is the strongest Marlboro currently on the market, packing 1.8 milligrams of nicotine and 30 milligrams of tar. That is comparable to other full-strength kretek on sale in Indonesia, but twice as much as regular Marlboros on sale elsewhere in the world - Martin King, Sampoerna's president director, told The Associated Press in an interview.

How can they do it? Well, the eugenol in cloves numbs the throat in smokers. They don?t even feel the harshness of the tobacco, but they get the full buzz.