‘It’s just chewing tobacco’

2011-09-30 00:00

RESEARCH by The Witness has scotched the rumour being spread at taxi ranks all over Africa that khaini — the poor man’s chewing tobacco from India made by the Kuber Food Company — is a libido-enhancing, mind-altering drug.

In India, where the Kuber Food Company has produced the little bags of khaini since 1987, the millions of men who daily chew the tobacco in place of smoking cigarettes will indeed chuckle at the news that — all over Africa— khaini is now rumoured to enhance the libido of women.

The facts are that khaini can contain up to 25% nicotine, which does make it highly addictive, but chemical analysis shows that the rest of the urban legends concerning the cheap little sachets are all in the mind.

The Kuber Food Company’s website lists plain khaini ingredients to be “tobacco leaves, slaked lime paste and water”. Scented khaini may add menthol, spices and betel nut.

Independent analysis of the leaf material in a packets of Kuber, done by the Niche Tobacco Products Directory in UK, (NTPD) shows that Kuber contains “a nicotine content of dried tobacco ranging from two to eight percent. The results are consistent with the sample containing the equi-valent of between approximately six and 25% tobacco,” the NTPD’s research reads.

While such analysis may allay the titillating pan-African rumour that a libido-raising drug has hit taxi ranks all over the continent, South Coast residents are rightly concerned that the nicotine-laden Kuber is freely available to school students.

A Umzinto resident who wished to remain anonymous said, “This product is all over Umzinto in the Chinese shops. It is only R5 so it is very affordable to youth. I have heard of some bad things are happening here to children who used it.”

While The Witness’ research shows that these “bad things” can amount at most to an addiction to nicotine — and not the “very high” or aroused states that the sly marketers would lead consumers to believe — the addiction is very strong because nicotine is both a stimulant and a relaxant.

Wikipedia cites the American Heart Association’s statement that “nicotine is one of the hardest addictions to break, while the pharmacological and behavioural characteristics that determine tobacco addiction are similar to those determining addiction to heroin and cocaine”.

When chewing a tobacco product like Kuber, the amount of nicotine released into the body tends to be much greater than when inhaling tobacco smoke, which is what makes Kuber more addictive than cigarettes.

witness@feveronline.co.za

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Illegal to sell tobacco products to U18s

POLICE spokesperson Captain Vincent Pandarum said that while Kuber is not classified as a prohibited, dependence-producing drug, selling tobacco and tobacco products to persons below 18 years old is prohibited by the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act 63 of 2008.

He added, “Although its use [of Kuber] is not prohibited by law, it most certainly will have a much more damaging effect on the tender bodies and minds of children than that of mature adults.”

Pandarum confirmed that Kuber is believed to be bought mainly “by women who place a bit of it beneath their tongues like is done with snuff [tobacco] or it is chewed”.

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