What Are Bidis?

Dentists the world over try to encourage their patients to stop smoking, and also to not start chewing tobacco, which can cause mouth cancer, among other health problems. But now a new cancer culprit is rearing its ugly head, and affecting teenagers the most. They are called bidis — sweet cigarettes that are more dangerous than regular cigarettes, says Dr. Jimmy Wu of Sutra Dental Spa in La Mesa, California.

A bidi (pronounced Beedi) is a thin cigarette that is almost always flavored. Bidis come from South Asia and are very sweet, so many people assume they are safer to smoke than a regular tobacco cigarette. But that is far from the truth.

Bidis are unfiltered and they come rolled in a tendu leaf, which is a bit misleading as many people say they look less “real” than regular cigarettes. They are readily available in many convenience outlets, neighborhood stores and online, and cost less than basic cigarettes, which are just two reasons why they appeal to young people.

More Tar and Nicotine

Remember the clove cigarettes of yesteryear? Well, bidis are like that, only they contain more tar, nicotine and even carbon monoxide than a regular cigarette. In fact, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shown that they contain seven times more carbon monoxide and nicotine, and are therefore a lot more addictive once you start smoking them.

And along with the addiction comes the greater risk of disease, including oral cancer. And to top it off, the tendu leaf itself burns less easily than most cigarette paper, meaning you have to inhale deeper to get its full effect. So the increased amount of tar and nicotine has more of chance of entering your lungs.

Stay Away

Here are reasons for you to avoid bidis, and to encourage your teens to do the same too:

  • Most packets of bidis do not carry health warnings
  • They taste sweet and have fun packaging, encouraging kids to smoke
  • They are easily available and cheaper than regular cigarettes, making a bigger impact on kids
  • You have to inhale deeper, increasing your risk of lung cancer
  • Bidis have seven times more nicotine and carbon monoxide than other cigarettes, increasing your risk of oral and other cancers
  • Bidis have five times more tar than other cigarettes

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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