Analysis of Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines in the Common Smokeless Tobacco Afzal in Oman

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


Objectives: There is a lack of awareness regarding the carcinogenicity of Afzal, an illegal smokeless tobacco product (STP) widely used among the Omani youth. Previous research has shown that certain types of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) are associated with oral and lung cancers. This study therefore aimed to assess levels of four common TSNAs in a randomly selected sample of Afzal. Methods: This study was carried out at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman, between April and September 2013. A random sample of Afzal was analysed for four types of TSNAs using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The four types of TSNAs analysed were 4-(N-nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), N-nitrosonornicotine (NNN), N-nitrosoanatabine (NAT) and N-nitrosoanabasine (NAB). As a reference product, a sample of laboratory-manufactured American moist snuff (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) was also used to confirm the accuracy and precision of the analysis. Results: The analysis revealed total TSNA levels of 3.573 μg/g in the Afzal sample. Mean levels of NNN, NNK, NAT and NAB were 1.205, 1.015, 0.809 and 0.545 μg/g, respectively. Conclusion: Levels of the two most abundant TSNAs (NNN and NNK) found in the Afzal sample exceeded international regulatory limits. Afzal users therefore need to be educated regarding the potential health risks associated with their STP use. Stricter implementation of current legislation is recommended to reduce the availability and usage of Afzal in Oman.


Smokeless Tobaccos; Carcinogenesis; Nitrosamines; Tandem Mass Spectrometry; Liquid Chromatography; Oman.

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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

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