Characterisation of Nicotine and Cancer-Enhancing Anions in the Common Smokeless Tobacco Afzal in Oman

Nawal M. Al-Mukhaini, Taher A. Ba-Omar, Elsadig A. Eltayeb, Aisha H. Al-Shehi


Objectives: Afzal is a common smokeless tobacco product (STP) available illegally in Oman. This study aimed to assess pH and moisture levels and determine cancer-enhancing factors in a randomly selected sample of Afzal. Methods: This study was carried out at the Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman, between April and December 2013. A package of Afzal was purchased from a single provider and divided into samples. The pH and moisture content of the samples were measured according to the protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to analyse nicotine levels and ionexchange chromatography (IC) was used to determine concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, chloride, fluoride, bromide, sulphate and phosphate anions. Results: The samples had an alkaline pH of 10.46 with high levels of total (48,770.00 μg per g of STP [μg/g]) and unionised (48,590.00 μg/g) nicotine. The concentration of nitrate (8,792.20 μg/g) was alarmingly high. The chloride concentration (33,170.80 μg/g) showed a surge on IC chromatography. The moisture content percentage was 52.00%. Conclusion: The moisture content percentage and chloride concentration of Afzal was consistent with those of other STPs. In contrast, nitrite, sulphate and phosphate concentrations were below reported levels of other STPs. All anion concentrations were below the maximum daily limit set by international health organisations. However, the high concentrations of nitrite, nitrate and nicotine and the elevated alkaline pH observed in the analysed Afzal samples suggest that STP users will face health risks as a result of their use.


Smokeless Tobaccos; Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry; Ion-Exchange Chromatography; Carcinogens; Nicotine; Anions; Oman.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

Copyright SQUMJ 2019. This journal and its content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 4.0 International license.

Flag Counter