If you smoke then try the Indian cigarette the “Beedi”

Bidi (also spelled as beedi) is a deadly poor man’s thin Indian cigarette packed with high amount of nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. It is very popular is south Asian countries, especially in India and is exported to more than 100 countries. If you are a smoker then I wanted to pinpoint the Indian styled cigarette that you might wish to try when you are in India (at your own risk of course). But a word of warning!  Research has shown that a regular size bidi contains 5 times more tar than a regular cigarette and also thrice the amount of nicotine and carbon monoxide. Apart from these they have additional harmful chemicals like phenol, benzopyrenes, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia.

beedi
Packs of Bidis (beedi)

Often bidis are manufactured by tying unrefined tobacco flakes in a Tendu Patta (leaf of Indian Ebony plant) and rarely by Bidi leaf tree (Bauhinia Racemosa). Bidis accounts for nearly 48% of the tobacco consumed in India. They allow the consumer to ingest a lot of particulate matter as they do not have any filters on them. They are unhealthy, addictive and are known to be the cause of oral, esophagus and lung cancers among many users, in addition to increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases and lung diseases. Unlike the cigars or cigarettes, bidis do not remain lit for a long time. Like any type of smoke, bidi smokers spread the smoke, making people exposed to it passive smokers and increase their health risks too. The user has to breathe in the smoke constantly and puff the bidi to prevent it from dying down which again has serious health issues. Research conducted shows that the health risk is much higher among bidi smokers than those who puff of cigarettes.

Indian woman smoking bidi
Indian woman smoking bidi. Photo by Nagarjun Kandukuru.

Compared to cigarette smokers bidi smokers run higher risk of

  • Oral cancer – 42%
  • Respiratory diseases – 69%
  • Inthrathoracic organ diseases -69%
  • Lung – 35%
  • Larynx – 112%

Essential India Travel Guide: Travel Tips And Practical Information

Bidi consumers often come from low economic background and are at most of the times unaware of its ill effects on their health. The misguided perception about the bidi among its consumers is that unlike cigarettes it is a natural, handmade product with lesser factory manufactured chemicals like cigarette.

Bidis are often purchased lose without any package and they do not have any printed warnings. Even if they are bought in package, there is no statutory warning label on the package and even in the rare cases where they are present, the users may not know to read or understand it. Unlike the cigarette smokers these people are ignorant and do not know what they are getting into. The anti-tobacco ads promoted by Government of India which had been focusing on cigarette smoking has realized this aspect and is now trying to concentrate on prevention of tobacco usage through showing the ill effects of gutka consumption, eating paan and bidi smoking. The manufacturers often avoid tax payment, which allows them to sell the product at lower rates than other licensed tobacco products.

Paan Ingredients
You can buy the bidi at a pan shop

With the increasing competition in market, the manufacturers came up different flavors of bidi including fancy types like vanilla, mango, strawberry or chocolate besides the traditional ones. These have attracted young smokers, as young as 10 year olds leading to serious illness and even death in some cases.

Though Bidis came into existence in 17th century, the usage began to increase only after Gandhi’s promotion of using Indian products gained popularity among the Indians. Most of the people gave up the usage of foreign cigarettes and tobacco products and started using Bidis which were made in India by the Indians.  Initially prepared by the workers of the tobacco industry who could not afford expensive cigarettes but took the waste products and wrapped in leaves to enjoy a smoke in the evening after hard work, today Bidi manufacturing is a flourishing industry where the owners are minting millions of rupees.

Though the government implemented regulations to control the bidi manufacturing, it has survived as a cottage industry employing men to work in factory for higher pay, whereas women are allowed to work from home for lesser pay. Most of the workers of bidi industry become addict to the harmful product due to its easy availability and constant exposure to it. Even those people who abstain from smoking bidi suffer from the increased cotinine levels in their blood.  The sufferers are often women and children from the rural or semi-urban areas who are driven to work in the industry due to prevailing poverty.

The home based workers of bidi create constant exposure to the dust and fumes of tobacco, thus causing health hazard for all the family members including small children and even infants in some cases. Most of the people exposed to bidi manufacturing suffer from diseases like asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis besides cancers and heart disease.

You can find beedis in “paan shops” like in the picture above. By all means try it, they are cheap and cheerful and you never know you just might like it. Don’t forget to bring some beedis home with you. Just remember that bidis are as harmful as cigarettes.

If you want to enjoy India to the fullest then you might wish to get this book: Travel India: Enjoying India to the Fullest: Things to do in India

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22 thoughts on “If you smoke then try the Indian cigarette the “Beedi””

  1. Hi Shalu Sharma ,
    What a great Idea to share this blog.
    Really Indian Beedi has some less harm effect on health. If someone who is addicted of smoking should have to use Indian cigarette.
    Thanks for sharing…..Please keep sharing such post…

    Reply
  2. A few individuals simply don’t get it. We stogie crazy people do not burn cigars for a quick fix or to take the edge off. Rather, we anticipate an affair speaking to a large number of our most tangible senses – sight, smell, and taste. Burning a stogie makes a ‘moderate down’ minute in our occupied lives filled with relaxation and enjoyment. A moment we make time for. There is no arrangement of tenets set forth by some representing stogie body stating how one must go about enjoying a cigar. However, there are approaches to get ideal results every time you light up, further enhancing there are approaches to get ideal results every time you up. But remember excessive anything is really bad.
    The draw of a stogie is key for most extreme stogie pleasure. If the draw is too tight, not enough smoke will reach the sense of taste, in this way thwarting the level of flavor your taste buds receive. Also, the less smoke one pulls in with each puff, the less smoke one breathes out, diminishing the measure of fragrance noticed. There’s nothing better than sitting in a pillow billow of charming smells while burning a fine stogie. There are several methods to correcting a tight draw. One can back rub and squeeze the cut end of the cigar to work out some of the ‘knots’ or use a draw poker to open larger airways through the barrel’s body. Some of the time, a tight draw is the result of a cigar containing an excessive amount of dampness, which causes the filler, clears out to extend and confine wind current. For this reason, it is suggested putting away stogies at a mugginess level somewhat lower than 70%.

    Reply
  3. Hey Shalu Ma’am.

    I don’t know what to say but I would not promote any smoking products. Beedi could be an alternative for cigarette and other harmful tobacco products but I would say QUIT SMOKING if you can.

    Reply
  4. Its true that smoking is very much harmful for our health. But its a good idea to reduce smoking with the help of Indian bidi’s. Atleast it affects less as compare to other cigarettes.

    Those smokers who cant easily quit smoking, can start their quitting process with the help of Indian bidi’s. But at the end smokers should quit smoking because its not good for health as we all know. Its better to quit smoking as compare to ruin our life. But it could be the start for his process.

    Thanks for sharing this idea Shalu 🙂

    Reply
  5. Excellent share!!

    However we all know that cigarette, cigar, Indian beedi all these stuffs are injurious to health but still it has some advantages as well, use of cigarette can lower the chances of obesity, parkinson’s disease and knee replacement surgery!!

    Reply
  6. Smoking in any kind is harmful. Thought i agree and have witnessed that bidi is helpful in cutting down cigarettes. I have seen many examples. But it is more harmful so i dont see any difference. Nice post mam 🙂

    Reply
  7. The second hand smoking gives the effect on pets. You should not have to do smoke around the pets. Many owners who smoke have never thought about the effects of their habit on their pets. Please think about your pets also.

    Reply
  8. Hello Mam! Smoking in any kind is harmful. Thought i agree and have witnessed that beedi is helpful in cutting down cigarettes. I have seen many examples. But it is more harmful so i don’t see any difference. By the way nice post.

    Reply
  9. Its a very nice post. However we all know that cigarette, cigar, Indian beedi all these material are injurious to health but still it has some advantages as well, use of cigarette can lower the chances of weight, parkinson’s disease and knee replacement surgery!! Thanks.

    Reply
  10. great informative resource. i must admit i have never heard of but i am aware of similar poor mans cigarettes used by many poorer people in many developing countries.
    it is also interesting to note that it is exported to more than 100 countries, meaning for it to be exported, it has to meet certain standards. great work. other options for many are today referred to as e-cigarettes. many benefits and some costing disadvantages to acquire and maintain the electronic cigarettes.

    Reply
  11. Honeslty, used to be a 10 year smoker, but recently quit. If you can’t afford your addiction my advice would be to start thinking about quitting it…

    Reply
  12. 90,000+ Indian are dying every year due to tobacco-related illnesses. Bidis are not new, and they are certainly not safe! But it’s a good idea to reduce smoking with the help of Indian bidis.Thanks for share

    Reply
  13. The nicotine in the cigarettes that I was smoking were killing me. I used suggestions like these to get pretty far into getting rid of my addiction. I was proud of myself and then I went drinking on my girlfriends birthday. I wanted to celebrate so I bummed a smoke off someone in the street and woke up 6 months later at a pack a day. I started looking for options and ended up finding Ibogaine. The more I looked into Ibogaine treatment, the more I realized that it was an option for help. Basically, I tried it and have no urge for nicotine or the ritual of my nightly butt before bed.

    There’s a ton of info on the web about iboga. If you’re interested check out Eboka Forum and Erowid to read more about other people’s experience. I did so much research and I suggest you do the same. Make sure the center you go to works for you. The place I went was a little warm and fuzzy for me, but they were so genuine that it made up for it. All I’m saying is do your research – check reviews and scam reports before you give them any kind of money for your treatment.

    Reply
  14. Hey, am actually a Cigar Lover. am From India in India some people feel prestige to smoke beedi actually i love it.

    Reply
  15. Honestly used to be a 2-year smoker, but recently quit. If you can’t afford your addiction my advice would be to start thinking about quitting it…

    Reply

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