Learning Objectives: Describe the prevalence of bidi use among youth and some of the adverse health effects compared with smoking Western-style cigarettes.
Abstract: Problem: Bidis are small, brown, hand-rolled cigarettes, primarily made in India and other southeast Asian countries, consisting of tobacco wrapped in a leaf. They are available in flavored varieties including cherry, chocolate, and mango, which appeal to young people.
Methods: Data for the National Youth Survey were used to determine the prevalence of tobacco use among young people. The chemistry, toxicology, and health effects were examined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others.
Results: In 2000, 2.4% of middle school students and 4.1% of high school students reported current bidi use. Bidi cigarettes contain less tobacco than Western-style cigarettes but contain up to two times more nicotine than an equivalent amount of tobacco in Western-style cigarettes. The smoke of bidi cigarettes contains many of the same toxic chemicals as the smoke of Western-style cigarettes, and has considerably higher amounts of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Some bidis have filters but the filters do not lower the amount of tar, nicotine, or carbon monoxide in the smoke. Bidi smokers have twice the risk for getting lung cancer than those who smoke Indian filtered cigarettes and five times the risk for suffering heart disease than nonsmokers.
Discussion: Smoking bidis can result in more serious adverse health effects than smoking Western-style cigarettes. This is troubling because of the appeal of bidis to young people.
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