Cigarettes with Training Wheels
Bidi cigarettes consist of tobacco wrapped in tendu or temburni leaf (plants that are native to Asia -- Diospyros melanxylon). Typically tied on one or both ends with string, bidis are produced in a wide variety of flavors, including chocolate, mango, vanilla, lemon-lime, mint, pineapple and cherry.
Referred to as cigarettes with training wheels by health authorities, the overall appearance and taste of this product is especially appealing to young smokers.
Bidi cigarettes gained popularity in the United States in the mid-1990s, and by 1999, there was a call to action against bidis by the State Attorneys General urging Congress and federal officials to stop the import of this toxic product geared specifically toward children.
From Attorney General Tom Miller:
- "Bidis are more damaging to health than traditional cigarettes, and they are flavored to make them attractive to children. That's a lethal combination."
Bidi Cigarette Facts
- Bidi cigarettes contain more than three times the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide as traditional cigarettes.
- Bidi cigarettes contain five times as much tar as regular cigarettes.
- Since bidis don't have chemicals added to aid in combustion, the smoker must draw on a bidi cigarette more often and with more force in order to keep it from going out. This results in higher concentrations of toxins breathed in than with traditional cigarettes. Smokers puff on a bidi cigarette approximately 28 times as opposed to 9 puffs on a regular cigarette.
- Bidi smokers have a greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer and other cancers than do people who smoke traditional cigarettes.
- It's estimated that approximately 3% of current high school students smoke bidi cigarettes.
- It's also estimated that male high school students smoke bidi cigarettes at a rate twice as high (4%) as female high school students (2%).
- Young smokers are attracted to bidis, because they are easier to obtain than traditional cigarettes, provide a "rush" of nicotine, are small and flavored and look like marijuana joints.
- Bidi packaging often does not contain the health-warning labels that regular cigarettes must carry.
CDC Factsheet on Bidis and Kreteks. 28 February, 2007. US Dept of Health and Human Services.
Attorneys General Call for Action Against "Bidi" Cigarettes. 03 December, 1999. Iowa Dept. of Justice.