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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e469-e476
JournalSultan Qaboos University Medical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Anions
  • Carcinogens
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
  • Ion-exchange chromatography
  • Nicotine
  • Oman
  • Smokeless tobaccos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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