This Article is About
conventional cigarettes
cancer causing chemicals
chemical additives
south east asia
cigarette smoke
carbon monoxide
Bidi Smoking
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Bidis

So what exactly is a bidi cigarette? Bidi cigarettes, or bidis, are small hand made cigarettes manufactured in India and South East Asia. They contain sun cured tobacco wrapped in the leaf of the tendu tree. The ends are usually bound with string and they come in an enticing variety of flavours, including clove, grape, chocolate, cherry and mint.

Cheap Ciggies

Bidis are popular in their country of origin because they are much cheaper than conventional commercially manufactured cigarettes. It is estimated that 70% of the tobacco smoked in India is in the form of bidis.

Bidis Move West

In the 1990′s bidis started to become popular in the United States, especially amongst the young. They were perceived as exotic and because they don't contain additives, a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. The fact that bidis look a little like a joint helped to cement their popularity. Data obtained by the Center of Disease Control reveals that 2% to 5% of American teenagers have smoked bidis. In certain urban communities this rate goes up to 40%.

The perception that bidis are less harmful than normal cigarettes is fostered in part due to their small size and the small amount of tobacco contained within the tendu leaf.

Bidis Pack a Punch

Appearances are deceptive. Research has shown that the oriental leaf is packed with nicotine and contains as much as three times the nicotine found in regular tobacco, weight for weight. They deliver about the same amount of cancer causing chemicals as well.

Conventional cigarettes are wrapped in a fine porous paper which allows air to be drawn into the smoke stream. This dilutes the cigarette smoke making it less noxious. Unfortunately, bidis are wrapped in a non-porous leaf which prevents the addition of diluting air. In this way bidi smokers inhale the full undiluted form of tobacco smoke therefore increasing the delivery of tar and carbon monoxide into the lungs.

Normal cigarettes have chemical additives which aid their combustion and prevent the cigarette from going out, bidis however are additive free and must be sucked with more force and more often to keep them lit. This influences the behaviour of the smoker and usually means that greater concentrations of toxins and nicotine are absorbed than that experienced by smokers of traditional cigarettes.

Bidis Bad

In the final analysis bidis are not a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. They deliver as much, if not more, of many of the poisonous compounds found in commercially obtained cigarettes. They also deliver a hefty dose of nicotine making them extremely addictive delivery systems. They appeal to the young because of their candy taste and hip appearance. They are also much cheaper than their conventional counterparts.

More needs to be done to educate and alert the young to the dangers of bidi smoking. Bidi smoking is not trendy, like all tobacco consumption, it is just deadly.


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