The Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention AllianceFACT SHEET:


  • Bidis (also spelled “beedies”) are small, flavored, filterless cigarettes from India that have been gaining popularity among America’s teenagers. They consist of shredded tobacco rolled in dried tendu leaves (a plant native to India) and secured with string. They are produced in a variety of flavors including chocolate, vanilla, cherry, mango and licorice.(1)
  • Currently, there are no national statistics on bidi use in the U.S., but their use seems to be increasing. Between 1994-95 when bidis were reclassified from “cigars” to “cigarettes”, the value amount of cigarette imports from India increased by more than 500% suggesting that bidis make up the bulk of imported Indian cigarettes. Between 1995-98, the value amount of cigarettes from India has increased by more than 400%.(1)
  • Bidis are unfiltered. They may have even more deleterious health effects than cigarettes. Bidis release 3 to 5 times more tar and nicotine and contain more deadly chemicals, such as ammonia and carbon monoxide, than regular cigarette smoke although they contain less tobacco.(1)
  • Bidis have been imported into the U.S. for at least 20 years but only recently seem to have become popular among young people. Tobacco industry documents have suggested that flavored products might appeal to young teenagers, one Brown & Williamson document stated that, “It’s a well known fact that teenagers like sweet products”.(1)
  • Bidis are easier for teenagers to purchase. One study demonstrated that bidis were sold to minors without age ID 2 times as often as regular cigarettes and are also regularly sold via the internet.(1)
  • A study in San Francisco found that although bidis are required to display a warning, they cannot be sold to individuals under the age of 18 and must be taxed at the same rate as cigarettes. Forty-one percent of the bidis purchased had no tax stamp and 7 out of 10 packs had no health warnings.(1)
  • Despite a 1991 Supreme Court (India) ruling that child labor in tobacco should be prohibited, more than 325,000 children labor in the bidi industry. Bidi rolling is hazardous because the work position produces chronic back pain, interferes with normal growth patterns and causes physical deformities. Bidi rollers also suffer lung diseases from constantly inhaling tobacco dust, have high rates of Tuberculosis, asthma and other lung disorders.(1)


(1) Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids