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December 2000

Bidi Cigarettes: An Emerging Threat to Adolescent Health

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, Oak Harbor, Wash (Dr Yen); Weill Medical College of Cornell University (Ms Hechavarria); and the Department of Pediatrics, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY (Dr Bostwick).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154(12):1187-1189. doi:10.1001/archpedi.154.12.1187

The bidi cigarette, or bidi, is a dangerous tobacco product that has rapidly been gaining popularity in the United States during the past few years, particularly with adolescents. Bidis, which are imported from India and sold in convenience stores and gas stations, are being marketed as a new, safe, and natural alternative to regular cigarettes. The cured flakes and dust of dark tobacco leaves are hand-rolled in dried tendu leaves (a broad-leafed plant native to India) and tied at both ends with colorful thread. The unfiltered final product is a small, slim cigarette whose appearance resembles that of a marijuana cigarette. Various flavorings, including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and root beer, are added to mask the poor quality of the tobacco. Bidis are sold for around $2 for a pack of 20, which is approximately half the price of regular cigarettes. Walk into a convenience store in a major American city such as New York, and one will likely find bidis displayed behind the counter, beside a cache of Beanie Babies. However, unlike their furry shelf companions of equally innocuous-sounding name, bidis are anything but harmless and are unlikely to disappear any time soon.

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