According to the results of the Lancet Study on the effects of bidi against usage of cigarettes published recently, it strongly recommends stricter regulations and control for dissuading the people from smoking the Indian bidis.
This study also revealed that it can cause severe health problems like cardio respiratory issues and respiratory ailments. If you were of the opinion that smoking bidis were much beneficial to your health than smoking cigarettes, then it’s time to change your opinion about it.
What Is A Bidi?
Bidi is an herbal cigarette of hand rolled type, which has its origin in India. Though, it looks like the standard cigarette, it is made with dried tobacco leaves or with betel leaves, which are rolled using brown or green leaves. Colorful threads are used to hold the whole rolled leaf structure together and for securing it.
Bidis are commonly found in India since several centuries and is known as the cigar of the poor. The bidi manufacturers often mask the quality of the poor ingredients used inside it by adding aromatic products like vanilla, licorice, clove, cinnamon and other herbs. When one inhales the bidi, the smoke will have a spicy as well as a sweet fragrance.
Bidis are very popular in Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as people who cannot afford cigarettes us it. Usually, teenagers and middle aged men prefer to smoke this tobacco based product. With time, Indian bidis slowly found their way to the Western part of the world and are sold as a cheap alternative to regular cigarettes.
Misconceptions About Bidis
There are several misconceptions prevailing about the Indian bidis that have made many people think of it as a healthy alternative to regular cigarettes.
- Natural Product: As the bidi is wrapped with natural leaves, it is considered to be an herbal product with less toxicity than cigarettes. However, the smokers have to take a deep puff each time while smoking a bidi, as there are no chemicals in it to promote combustion. So, it makes them breathe in higher toxin levels than the cigarettes.
- Less Tobacco content: As cigarettes are longer than the bidis, people often think that bidis have less tobacco content than its modern counterpart. But, smokers can puff a bidi 28 times approximately when compared to the 9 puffs of a commercial cigarette. This is why bidis can negatively affect the lung health.
- No Chemicals: Bidi is said to be a natural product, as it is made only with dried tobacco leaves. But, it has high amount of chemicals that can be harmful for human health.
- Not Addicting: Bidis are considered to be less harmful than the standard cigarettes. However, this tobacco product has 3 to 5 times higher nicotine content than cigarettes. Plus, it also has more amount of carbon monoxide and tar than its paper rolled counterpart.
Top 6 Reasons Why Indian Bidis Are Harmful Than Regular Cigarettes
Health experts opine that the Indian bidis are very toxic than the tobacco cigarettes. Read on to know the reasons.
1. Laced With Chemicals
This leaf covered bidi has an array of chemicals, such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, phenol, benzopyrenes and hydrogen cyanide. Such compounds are also found in the cigarettes, but in low levels. So, when one smokes bidis regularly, they are prone to chemical poisoning.
2. Not Filtered
The cigarettes are offered with the cotton end that acts as the filter to produce fine smoke. But, the bidis don’t have any filter, as it is not manufactured in factories, but by very poor laborers at their homes. So, smoking the unfiltered smoke can be very dangerous to the smoker as well as the people around him.
As the bidis are puffed deeply than the cigarettes, the unfiltered smoke passes to the lungs. It also causes coronary heart problem and hypertension. Smoking bidi regularly would also cause emphysema and the risk of developing bronchitis is increased by 4 times.
3. Risk of Cancer
Bidis consist of cancer inducing compounds than the regular cigarettes. Studies reveal that when one smokes bidi frequently, they might develop tongue cancer. It is also known to cause larynx cancer, mouth cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer and oral cancer.
4. Leads To Tissue Breakdown
Even though the bidi manufacturers market this tobacco product as the herbal cigarettes, it does not mean that such products can be less dangerous when compared to smoking cigarettes. The dangers linked to smoking cigarettes are also similar to smoking bidis and can cause breakdown of tissues. Bidi smoking can be the culprit behind the development of lung ailments, respiratory issues and cardiovascular diseases.
5. Presence of Addictive Compounds
Quitting bidis can be very hard, as it is made with dried leaves of the tobacco plant, which contains nicotine. This addictive compound in bidis makes it difficult for the users to quit smoking it. Smokers of bidis inhale about 2 to 3 times of nicotine and tar when compared to cigarette smokers.
Even though the bidis are made from low amounts of tobacco leaves when compared to regular cigarettes, they have high levels of nicotine content, making it very addictive.
6. Prepared In Unhygienic Environment
The tobacco for the bidis is stored in huge warehouses with no standard facilities and the tobacco is not cleaned before getting rolled. Women and kids are the part of this cottage industry in India and get exposed to flakes of tobacco every day.
So, their body fluids are mixed with nicotine in high levels, which exposes them to various health hazards like damage of lymph nodes, ear discharge, inflammation in the joints, abscess, skin infections, rashes, cancers and hearing issues.
Long Term Effects Of Bidi Smoking
Those who have enjoyed smoking Indian bidis for a while would experience, some or all of these symptoms after a few years. They are:
- Continuous cough
- Loss of appetite
- Hoarse voice
- Coughing up blood
- Pain in the chest
- Breathing trouble
- Coughing up a lot of mucus or phlegm
- Bronchitis or pneumonia
- White patches or sores in the mouth
If the people you know have developed some of the above mentioned effects of smoking bidi, make sure to advise them to seek medical attention immediately.
The information that we have compiled above would help you know that smoking the Indian bidis can be very dangerous for human health when compared to the cigarettes. If you are living in a region where smoking bidi is prevalent, then make sure that you discuss with your children about the ill effects of using tobacco products. It will help them realize the dangers of smoking.
Also, educate them about the fact that even when one seeks medical assistance to quit smoking after using the bidis or cigarettes, the damages these products did to their body cannot be reversed with treatments. So, it is always good to refrain from the smoking habit.
Kreteks or clove cigarettes Vs. Bidis
|Bidis||Kreteks or clove cigarettes|
|It causes cancer and other related health problems||Normal to severe lung problems|
|3-5 times more nicotine than regular cigarettes||Kretek smokers have a risk abnormal lung function 13-20 times more than non smokers.|
|Risk of coronary heart disease is 3 times more||Fluid in lungs, capillaries leakage and severe inflammation|
|Chronic bronchitis risk increases||People with asthma have higher risk of lungs related complications|
|Oral. lung, stomach, and esophageal cancer risk||Obstruction in airflow leading to various complication of lungs|
|Addictive||These are addictive too|
|Warning label are absent in most cases||Warning label are absent for these too|