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Bidis - Latest craze among American teenagers.

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    Bidis - Latest craze among American teenagers.

    Bidis (Beedis) are becoming increasing popular in USA. It's the latest craze of American teenagers. At a recent survey in San Francisco, nearly 58% have tried smoking Bidis (Beedis). They are also available in Strawberry and Vanilla flavor. Bidis (Beedis) are mainly manufactured in India, where they are smoked by mostly poor people. They are similar to Cigars , in that they are made of tobacco leaves rolled up.

    Isn't beedis like rolling paper, i.e. Bamboo or EZ Widers??


      When I was going to school few years back, I used to work at this gas station/grocery store owned by a desi. We used to have Beedis and they were really hot item. A lot of black and white people used to buy them. We would charge $3.00 for a pack of Beedis which would cost some Anas in India! I think part of the reason that it appeals to teens is that it smells, taste, and/or feels like (to some extent) marjuana.


        Imported Indian cigarettes (Bidis) popular with teens

        Michael, a 15- year-old sophomore at the School of the Arts, sits on the sidewalk and takes another puff from a little brown joint that made big news over the summer in San Francisco. Tied with a pink string at one end, the joint, commonly called a bidi, is an herbal leaf hand-rolled with shredded tobacco.

        Michael is about to take a last drag of the bidi.

        "I like them [bidis]," Michael said. And so do 31 percent of San Francisco's teenagers, according to Ebonne Smith, project coordinator at Booker T. Washington Community Service Center in San Francisco.

        According to a study organized by Smith, teenagers smoke bidis mostly because they think bidis are cool or because bidis make them feel good. Indian Bidis are also cheaper than cigarettes, at $2.20 for a pack of 25 bidis versus $2.50 to $3 for 20 cigarettes.

        Deemed a poor man's cigarette in India, bidis seem to be popular in San Francisco, especially the Western Addition and Tenderloin districts, where it is also easiest for minors to obtain tobacco products, according to the study.

        "You just walk into a store and buy them [bidis]," Michael said. He usually purchases bidis at a liquor store on Taraval Street.

        Shakti Beedi Works, an Indian company and one of many exporters of bidis, stated that "Indian bidis are inexpensive and less hazardous than cigarettes" on its Web page (

        "You just walk into a store and buy them [bidis]."

        Michael, a 15-year-old smoker

        "I enjoy the headrush, but the aftertaste is annoying," Michael said. Bidis are also more addictive because of the extra nicotine, according to the CDC.

        Statistics from Smith's survey show that 40 percent of teenage smokers have been smoking for more than a year. It's not impossible to quit, however. "I stopped smoking because it's not worth it," said Oleg, a 14-year-old ex-smoker.

        Even though Indian bidis are legal in the United States, seven out of 10 packages of bidis are missing the surgeon general's warning that smoking may cause cancer and be harmful to one's health, according to Smith's research.

        Bidi import is currently under investigation because the surgeon general's warnings are missing from Indian bidi packages, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

        Some believe that Indian bidi import should be regulated. "The government should make them [bidis] meet the qualifications that cigarettes need to meet, but they [qualifications] should be much stricter and more regulated to ensure the health and safety of teens," said Lowell sophomore David Kim.


          Indian Bidis are very popular in Pakistan too. Especially among the poor working class who cannot afford cigarattes.

          What an irony. The sales of cigarattes is down in US , so tobacco companies are targeting Asia (particularly India, China and Pakistan). Free cigarattes are offered to all teenagers in schools, colleges, music concerts etc. And here imported Bidis are becoming popular. I feel US will ban bidis if it's going to affect US economy. There is a big tobacco lobby in Washington. But if Asia bans US cigarrates, US will impose sanctions and complain to WTO. See what they did with the Bananas in Carribean.


            The tobacco industry has been distancing itself from the coveted American market and has been targeting third world countries for quite some time now. The profit made from third world countries along with the no-hassle gov'ts also makes it feasible to step away from higlky regulated American market.

            I bought a carton of Marlboro Lights at the airport for 11 bucks. AT THE AIRPORT!! where everything is almost twice that of regular store. Just imagine how much its gonna be at your local coveneient store in paki land.


              Gee! I've never seen anyone smoke an Indian-made bidi in USA; Sure, I have seen people roll up their own tobacco and smoke 'em. The Kids love 'em because they are extra Potent - no filter or blend tobacco; probably more harmfull than American cigarettes. Let's see how long before the Health Authorities clamp down on them.


                In Pakistan, Indian bidis are popular for other reasons too. Poor people cannot afford cigerrates, also Bidis help them from Hunger. They say, there are some people who cannot afford food, so to kill their hunger they smoke Indian Bidis. Both men and women are addicted to Bidis.

                In US, Bidis are getting popular because Uncle Sam is increasing the Tax on cigarattes every year. Here girls smoke bidis and cigarattes to reduce weight.


                  Germans smoke Indian bidis (beedies) on a regular basis for a long time. You can buy beedies anywhere in Germany. Not to mention they are expensive too.

                  Imagine, Sharon Stone or Demi Moore smoking an Indian bidi in style in a Hollywood movie.


                    well true bidis are really going on up for like a while now. I am a senior in highschool and like since i was like a sophomore every one was going like hooters on them. They are called B&B's in our school just like m&m's.


                      Aticle on Indian Bidis (beedis) in TIME Magazine:

                      Tobacco Fashion: It came, it saw, it conquered.

                      This is the little cigarette that could: it came, it saw, it conquered. The trendiest smoke on college campuses these days emanates from Indian imports called beedies (from the Hindi bidi). About half the diameter of regular cigarettes and hand rolled in tendu (Indian ebony leaves), they look slightly like microcigars. Beedies, however, pack a much more powerful punch: up to 8% nicotine, versus the 1% to 2% in American cigarettes. The imports are composed of a species of tobacco different from that most commonly used by U.S. manufacturers. They also come in flavors: clove, menthol and even strawberry. Popular brands include Mangalore Ganesh and Kailas. Despite the buzz the beedies deliver, FDA analysis finds they contain no hallucinogens. Says Suresh Talapati, a native of India and a tobacco scientist at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: "Perhaps the fact that they look like joints interests the young people." Beedies cost from $2.50 to $3.00 per pack of 20. (A pack of unfiltered Camels can range from $1.25 to $3.15.) Why the expense for such tiny smokes? In 1994 the ATF reclassified beedies as cigarettes rather than cigars, thus imposing a tax rate about 10 times as high as was previously charges. Though they may have cult status in America, beedies have little cachet back in India, where more than 800 billion are smoked each year. They remain what they have always been , says Talapati, "the poor man's cigarette."


                        The smoke wafting through some of the nation's hippest teen hangouts doesn't always smell like Marlboros or Camels anymore. And, although the cigarettes are thin and hand-rolled, it doesn't smell like marijuana either.

                        This scent is sweeter, exhalations of strawberries, chocolate and vanilla.
                        From Atlanta's Little Five Points to New York's East Village to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, hippie wannabes are lighting up Indian bidis - flavored cigarettes imported from India.

                        ``They're dessert with a cigarette,'' says Leah Parrish, 19, standing outside a tobacco store in Little Five Points.

                        Bidis - sometimes called beedies and about half the size of regular cigarettes - are filled with tobacco flakes, hand-rolled with a greenish-brown leaf, tapered at both ends and tied with a tiny, colored thread.
                        Indian Bidis cost less than regular cigarettes, averaging $2 for a pack of 20.

                        And they're drawing youngsters to smoking even better than Joe Camel, some health officials say. Teens say they're cute, trendy, less bitter and more natural than domestic smokes.

                        A survey last year found that 58 percent of students at four San Francisco high schools had tried Indian bidis.

                        Sold in specialty tobacco and cigarette stores for several years, bidis now are popping up in gas stations, convenience marts and grocery stores.

                        Anna Falcone, tobacco buyer at Junkman's Daughter, a clothing and gift shop in Atlanta, said bidis are a top seller, outpaced only by clove cigarettes.

                        ``It's just a little bit more exotic,'' she says. ``They're smoking a little brown cigarette that smells like strawberry.''

                        Despite containing less tobacco than a U.S. cigarette, an unfiltered bidi ``releases at least two to three times more tar and nicotine,'' says Samira Asma, an epidemiologist with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

                        Bidis have been made for centuries in India, where they are known as the ``poor man's cigarette.''

                        Darryl Jayson, spokesman for the Tobacco Merchants Association, an industry trade group, said it's difficult to determine how many Indian bidis are imported because they are counted under different tariff codes.

                        And even with the growing popularity of bidis, all imported cigarettes make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. tobacco market, according to the Specialty Tobacco Counsel, based in North Carolina.

                        Three major importers, Kretek International of California, Quintin USA Inc. of Colorado and Smokers Choice of California, who also sell bidis on the Internet, refused to comment on their sales.

                        According to stores, the most popular flavors are vanilla, black licorice, strawberry, dewberry, clove and cinnamon. The different flavors are a pleasant change from the regular fare, smokers say.

                        ``It's not like picking up a Marlboro,'' Ms. Falcone says.

                        Ashley Woodall, a 22-year-old Atlanta restaurant employee, says strawberry Indian bidis are her favorite.

                        Bree Strahan, a high school senior in suburban Atlanta, says she like Indian bidis, but they're not strong enough for her. And it's sometimes tough to keep them lit.

                        ``I could never smoke them instead of a regular cigarette,'' she says.

                        The popularity of Indian bidis doesn't surprise anti-smoking activists, who say the Indian cigarettes should be more closely regulated and should cost more to keep them out of the hands of teen-agers.

                        The Federal Trade Commission is investigating reports that many bidis are sold without the required warning labels.