Designer beedis

Print edition : August 28, 1999

FACED with tough competition from cigarette manufacturers, beedi-makers are seeking new pastures. Indian beedis in 'designer' flavours such as strawberry, grape and vanilla are all the rage in parts of the United States today.

As cigarettes become costlier, many young Americans have taken to the cheaper option of beedis from India. Beedis made their first appearance this year in Massachusetts and at least some school children who took to smoking flavoured beedis thought they w ere some kind of herbal cigarette sans tobacco.

Beedis available in some States such as California carry no health warnings. They are easily available and can even be ordered on the Internet. Health departments are now waking up to the hazards posed by these handrolled unfiltered tobacco products. Rec ently ABC TV reported that the Massachusetts Department of Health checked a batch of beedis and found that the amount of tar that they contained and carbon monoxide that they emitted was two to three times higher than in the case of cigarettes. And the n icotine per gram was seven times higher than that of regular cigarettes.

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