Eugenol is a chemical in clove cigarettes. It serves as a weak anaesthetic and has been used by dentists as a pain reliever ("clove oil"). Eugenol is listed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS) when consumed orally, in unburned form. It is non-toxic in food, but toxic when administered directly to the airways.
A June 18, 1985 Los Angeles Times article links the eugenol in clove cigarettes to an increase in hospitalizations among teenagers for respiratory distress.
Documents indicate that eugenol was an additive in tobacco cigarettes for many years.
Eugenol is derived from cloves. It serves as a weak anaesthetic and has been used by dentists as a pain reliever ("clove oil"). Eugenol is listed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "Generally Regarded as Safe" (GRAS) when consumed orally, in unburned form. It is non-toxic in food, but toxic when administered directly to the airways.
Between March, 1984 and May, 1985, the U.S. Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recorded 12 cases of severe illness possibly associated with smoking clove cigarettes. In one case not cited by the CDC, a 17 year old Newport Harbor (California) high school student became short of breath after smoking a clove cigarette and eventually died of respiratory failure. His parents initiated a $25 million lawsuit against the sellers, makers and importers of the clove cigarettes, claiming they were negligent in supplying "dangerous and defective" cigarettes.
Eleven other patients were hospitalized with symptoms of pulmonary edema (blood and fluid-filled lungs), bronchospasm (constriction of the airways), hemoptysis (coughing up blood), nausea and vomiting.
According to the article, Dr. Frederick Schecter, a Whittier, California thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon discovered "a wealth of scientific studies have been conducted on eugenol," and said the chemical has been documented as toxic to cells and pharmacologically active on the central nervous system. He also said eugenol is "sensitizing" (meaning it can induce development of an allergy against itself) and has produced severe allergic reactions in dental patients, manifested by wheezing and shortness of breath.
- D. McLellan, Los Angeles Times Study Links Clove Cigarettes Ingredient, Toxicity - Experiment Yields Scientific Data Blaming Eugenol for Lung Damage to Animals June 18, 1985. Brown & Williamson Bates No.640514891/4896
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