Well, it has finally come to pass- thanks to Obama and the Congressional minions, it is now illegal to sell clove cigarettes in the United States. Smoke 'em if you got 'em...and I've got a few... for now. I've been smoking clove cigarettes ever since I went to Bali eight years ago, and have been a long-time smoker way before then. I don't even remember what brand I smoked prior to cloves (also known as Kreteks, in the Indonesian), and I can't, I WON'T go back to regular cigarettes. To me, they don't taste very good, and for me, it's definitely a matter of taste.
Even though I knew this ridiculous legislation was inevitable, I kept postponing stockpiling a large purchase of the now-banned product figuring I could wait until a couple of weeks before the ban deadline (Sept. 22nd) and still have a sizble amount of smokes before the product disappeared. I got a shocking wake-up call when the place I buy from in Pennsylvania decided to remove clove cigarettes from inventory a couple of weeks early, leaving me virtually cloveless. Panic ensued- I bought up all the clove cigarettes I could find locally, whatever brand I could find. (My preferred brand is Djarum, the Vanilla, or Gold, as you see in the photo.) I looked into online sources for purchase, but the ones from Indonesia (where clove kretek cigarettes are manufactured) didn't seem so reliable. Sure they were cheaper, but they take a long time to get delivered and I could see them being confiscated in customs. That would be a LOT of money up in smoke. Eventually, I found a domestic source, and also enlisted a friend from the South to purchase for me whatever he can find. With any luck, I will satsfied until the first snowfall. It's going to be an ugly winter though.
Back to the whole legislative aspect of banning cloves (and other flavored cigarettes) ...what the hell were these clowns thinking? The rationale is suposed to be discouraging young people from smoking, as if clove and flavored cigarettes are THE gateway to developing a smoking habit. That's just plain ludicrous. Teenagers smoke the most heavily advertised brands- Marlboro, Camel and Newport. After that, it's the generics and a few other name brands like Parliment, Kool, Doral and Virginia Slims. Cloves and other flavored cigarettes hardly factor in at all, and just aren't easy to find. Also, they're a bit more expensive than your average cigarette. In fact, the only kids who smoke clove cigarettes are usually Goth kids, and the percentage is fairly low. The brand of choice is Djarum Black, a pretty strong cigarette. Personally, I can't smoke more than one occassionally, and it is not my kretek of choice. Considering that 99% of clove cigarettes are manufactured in Indonesia, and cloves account for the largest percent of the flavored cigarette market outside of menthol, the part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that bans them is a direct embargo on Indonesian cigarette exports.
Under the FSPTCA, methol cigarettes are NOT banned. Why? Because the American tobacoo industry has too big a stake in them. Set up the little guy to take the fall, that's what it amounts to. Clove cigarettes account for only .09% of all cigarettes sold in the U.S. Less then a tenth of a percent! So does this look like an effective move in curbing teen smoking? Obviously not. It's just symptomatic of the empty-gesture ineffective legislation that has become a hallmark of the American political system.
Whether Barack Obama still smokes cigarettes or not is a still a bone of contention among some people. I think as recently as June he's admitted to puffing a few. As for his brand, no one knows for sure. Most seem to think it's Marlboro. I'm pretty sure it's not cloves. If he was a clove addict, he might not have been so quick to support banning them. Maybe he'd just have them imported under the radar. I'll bet Clinton found a way to get his hands on a good Cuban cigar now and then. Obama is classified as an ex-smoker, and I'm sure he'll keep it that way in the media. I think he's a closet smoker; only his wife and the Secret Service may know for sure. Still, the legislation is a bit hypoctitical from that perpective. Ex-smokers are notoriously the worst in their zeal against smokers.
So guberment has taken away my kreteks, or will, when I run out of them. Serves you right, you say. Time to quit. Well maybe, but it's forced cessation, not on my own terms. I think if some (tobacco) cigarettes are illegal, they all should be. If the people in government are so anxious to prohibit individual lifestyle choices (and they are), then pull the rug all the way out. Cigarette smokers have been made the pariahs of society; you can't smoke in restaurants, bars, public buildings, airplanes, movie theaters or any numer of other places. I remember a time when you could light up anywhere. Those days are gone, gone gone. That's fine, I'm not going to argue ETS with anyone. I'm not going to even defend smoking at all, but I believe I have the right to make up my own mind if and when I want to quit.
Just remember though, that banning clove cigarettes is ineffectual as a preventative measure to teen smoking and just pisses people like me off. And it won't stop here. Cap & Trade, Health Care, Bank and Corporate Bailouts and so many other situations where legislation will miss the mark, screw the little guy and allow the Corporatocracy to reap the rewards is the modus operandi of how things work in this country now. You can count on it, unless you're willing to do something about it.
For now, I may be "The King of Cloves," one of the few with the last remaining supply of those tasty cigarettes. But my days are numbered. When they run out, I guess I join the ranks of the ex-smokers. I can guarantee I won't be intolerent of smokers as most ex-smokers are. I respect your freedom of choice. I only wish mine was respected as well.