If you think cigarette is bad, it is time you learn about bidi. We are pretty darn sure that those of you who smoke bidi will seriously consider quitting the same and if not quit smoking completely, you will at least switch to cigarette. Having said that, it never means that we advocate cigarettes or smoking tobacco in any sense. Tobacco is bad and it must be avoided completely. Let us not waste too much of precious time and learn 20 interesting bidi facts.
Interesting Bidi Facts: 1-10 (A Bit of History)
1. Also spelled as biri or beedi, bidi or bidi cigarettes are Indian cigarettes that are also made in other Asian countries.
2. Birth place of bidis in Gujarat. It was late 17th century when tobacco cultivation started in India. The workers used to take the leftovers of cultivated tobacco and rolled them in leaves to make bidis.
3. The tobacco flakes are usually wrapped in tendu leaves but back in late 17th century tobacco workers made use of kachnar leaves.
4. In 1899 when Gujarat faced a famine. It was during the famine that two brother named Mohanlal and Hargovindas Patel moved to Jabalpur region as railway contractors and it was there that they discovered that tendu leaves were better for wrapping tobacco flakes. The seized the opportunity and set up local factories for bidi rolling.
5. In 1901 Haribhai Desai from the state of Bombay was the first person to register trademark using kachnar leaves. Next year in 1902, Mohanlal and Hargovindas Patel registered trademark for bidis using tendu leaves.
6. By 1930s, the bidi industry experienced cosmic growth. There were two primary reasons for such rapid growth. First, tobacco cultivation in India increased massively and second, Gandhi’s policy of supporting Indian industries and products provided the much needed push.
7. During those days, educated Indians started smoking bidis to help Gandhi’s non-cooperative movement. Muslim leaders also joined in and started rejecting cigarettes on the basis that they were foreign products.
8. Bidi manufacturing in India became a highly competitive industry by mid-20th century and bidi manufacturing companies started employing well over 100 men mainly as bidi rollers.
9. Between 1940s and 1960s, several government regulations reduced the stature of bidi manufacturing industry to that of a cottage industry with women becoming the primary workers for rolling the bidis.
10. Today nearly 3 million Indians are involved as bidi rollers in this cottage industry with majority of them being women who roll anywhere between 500 and 1000 bidis a day.
Interesting Bidi Facts: 11-20
11. Bidi rolling requires skills. Tobacco flakes are rolled in tendu leaves and one end of the bidi is tied with a string.
12. There are several brands of bidis available today in India and some of them are flavored brands. Some of the popular flavors include cherry, pineapple, mint, lemon-lime, chocolate, vanilla and mango.
13. Bidis are highly popular in India and other parts of South Asia as well as in Middle East but they have also made their way to 100 different countries including the US and Europe countries. According to a statistical study conducted in 2006, 2.9% of high school students in USA smoke bidis and 1.4% of Americans within the age group of 18 to 24 smoke bidis.
14. In India, bidis are extremely popular and as a matter of fact, bidi consumption in India is way higher than regular cigarette consumption.
15. As opposed to the general notion that bidis are safer compared to cigarette, they are actually far more dangerous because they deliver way more nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide in human body compared to cigarettes.
16. The reason why bidis deliver more nicotine is simple! Bidis do not have filters!
17. Bidis contain 3-5 times more nicotine compared to conventional cigarettes.
18. Bidis are manufactured without addition of any chemicals that will help in spontaneous combustion. As a result, a smoker needs to puff on a bidi more frequently and with greater effort.
19. Because more effort is required in puffing a bidi, higher concentrations of toxic elements enter the body and thereby significantly increasing the risks of oral cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer and lung cancer.
20. Risk of heart attack and heart diseases is also greater in bidi smokers. Risk of chronic bronchitis is 4 times greater in case of bidi smokers compared to cigarette smokers. Bidi smoking is usually associated with a disease known as emphysema where the air sacs in lungs gradually get damaged.