Beedi

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Packs of beedies.

A beedi (/ˈbd/; from Hindi: बीड़ी; also spelled bidi[1] or biri[2]) is a thin, Indian[3] cigarette filled with tobacco flake and wrapped in a tendu[4] or possibly even Bauhinia racemosa[5] leaf tied with a string at one end. The name is derived from the Marwari word beeda—a leaf wrapped in betel nuts, herbs, and condiments.[6]

Tendu Patta (Leaf) Collection in Chhattisgarh, India

A traditional method of tobacco use throughout South Asia and parts of the Middle East,[7] today beedies are popular[2] and inexpensive[8] in India. There, beedi consumption outpaces that of conventional cigarettes[2] although these tobacco-filled leaves deliver more nicotine,[9] carbon monoxide,[10] and tar[10] and carry a greater risk of oral cancers.[3] Beedies accounted for 48% of Indian tobacco consumption in 2008.[2] As with many other types of smoking, beedis increase the risk of certain kinds of cancers, heart disease, and lung disease.[10]

History of the beedi[edit]

A pack of Mangalore Ganesh beedies

Indian tobacco cultivation began in the late 17th century,[11] and beedies were first created in Gujarat when tobacco workers took left-over tobacco and rolled it in leaves.[11] Initially the leaf used was kachnar. In 1899, during the Gujarat famine, brothers Mohanlal Hargovindas Patel migrated to Jabalpur region as railway contracters. They discovered that the local tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) leaves are ideal for wrapping the tobacco and founded the beedi rolling factories locally. The first trademark was registered by Haribhai Desai of Bombay (using kachnar leaves) 1901, and Mohanlal and Hargovindas obtained their trademark in 1902 for tendu-rolled beedi.[11]

The commercial Indian beedi industry saw rapid growth during the 1930s[12] probably driven by an expansion of tobacco cultivation at the time[13] but also helped by Gandhi's support of Indian industry and Indian products.[14][15] Perhaps due to this, educated classes in India grew to prefer beedies to cigarettes[11] although this is no longer the case.[16] Muslim leaders, calling cigarettes foreign products, have also endorsed beedies at times.[17]

By the middle of the 20th century beedi manufacture had grown into a highly competitive industry.[11] This stage of commercial production—at the height of the beedi's popularity[citation needed]—saw the creation of many new beedi brands[11] as well as beedi factories employing upwards of one hundred, primarily male, beedi rollers.[12]

Factory-based beedi production declined as a result of increased regulation during the 1940s, '50s, and '60s,[13] and beedi-making became a cottage industry with a home-based women workforce predominantly employed only in the beedi rolling.[13] In contrast, males continue to be employed in all aspects of beedi production.[13]

Use[edit]

Unlike cigarettes, beedies must be puffed frequently to keep them lit, and doing so requires effort.[4]

Poor man's cigarette[edit]

A woman smoking a beedi in India

Beedi smoking tends to be associated with a lower social standing,[16] and these tobacco-filled leaves are inexpensive, when compared to regular cigarettes.[8] Those with a high social standing who do smoke beedies often do so out of the public eye.[16]

Beedies in the United States[edit]

In the United States, beedies are treated like conventional cigarettes. They are taxed at the same rates,[7] are required to have a tax stamp, and must carry the Surgeon General's warning.[7] However, a study done in San Francisco showed that about 4 in 10 packs of beedies did not contain the required warning label and 7 in 10 did not carry the tax stamp.[7] 2006 statistics on beedi usage shows that 2.9% of high school students in the United States take part in beedi smoking compared to 1.4% of those aged 18 to 24.[18]

Flavored beedies[edit]

Some beedies are flavoured.[4] Both the US and Canada have banned flavoured cigarettes.[19]


Herbal Beedi[edit]

Herbal beedi is a mixture of pure Himalayan and Indian herbs,blending is based on two herbal ancient health and healing science "Unani and Ayurveda".


Manufacture[edit]

The workers, mostly women, hand cut the leaves using scissors and a metal stencil guide. After cutting a sufficient number of wrappers, they will move on to roll approximately 1,000 beedies each per day.

Over 3 million Indians are employed in the manufacture of beedies,[20] a cottage industry that is typically done by women in their homes.[21]

Workers roll an average of 500–1000 beedies per day, handling 225–450 grams of tobacco flake.[22] Studies have shown that cotinine levels in the bodily fluids of beedi workers are elevated even among those who do not use tobacco.[22]

Tendu leaves[edit]

Tendu (Diospyros melanoxylon) leaves make excellent wrappers, and the success of the beedi is due, in part, to this leaf.[11] The leaves are in abundance shortly after the tobacco crop is cured and so are ready to be used in beedi manufacture.[11] Collected in the summer and made into bundles, the leaves are dried in the sun for 3 to 6 days before being used as wrappers.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dhar, Sujoy (18 Nov 2009). "Indian girls fight back against child marriage". KOLKATA, India: Reuters. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sunley, Emil M. (January 2008). India: The Tax Treatment of Bidis. Bloomberg Philanthropies. ISBN 978-2-914365-35-2. 
  3. ^ a b Mahbubur Rahman; Junichi Sakamoto; Tsuguya Fukui (10 September 2003). "Bidi smoking and oral cancer: A meta-analysis". International Journal of Cancer (Wiley-Liss, Inc.) 106 (4): 600–604. doi:10.1002/ijc.11265. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Gupta, Prakash C. (1992). Control of tobacco-related cancers and other diseases: proceedings of an international symposium, January 15–19, 1990, TIFR, Bombay. Prakash C. Gupta. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-19-562961-3. 
  5. ^ "Bidi Leaf Tree". Flowers of India. 
  6. ^ Bhargava's Standard Illustrated Dictionary of the Hindi Language. Bhushan Press. 1976. p. 312. 
  7. ^ a b c d Yen, Karl L., Hechavarria, Elizabeth, Bostwick, Susan B. (2000). "Bidi cigarettes : An emerging threat to adolescent health". Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine (Chicago, IL: American Medical Association) 154 (12): 1187–1189. ISSN 1072-4710. 
  8. ^ a b Rijo M John, R Kavita Rao, M Govinda Rao, James Moore, RS Deshpande, Jhumur Sengupta, Sakthivel Selvaraj, Frank J Chaloupka, Prabhat Jha (March 2010). The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation in India. ISBN 978-2-914365-70-3. 
  9. ^ Delnevo, CD; Pevzner, ES; Hrywna, M; Lewis, MJ (2004). "Bidi Cigarette use among Young Adults in 15 States". Preventive Medicine 39 (1): 207–211. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.01.025. PMID 15208004. 
  10. ^ a b c "Bidis and Kreteks". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Lal, Pranay (25 May 2009). "Bidi – A short history". Current Science (Bangalore, India: Current Science Association) 96 (10): 1335–1337. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  12. ^ a b T. M. Thomas Isaac, Richard W. Franke, Pyaralal Raghavan (1998). Democracy at work in an Indian industrial cooperative: the story of Kerala Dinesh Beedi. Cornell International Report. Volume 34. Cornell University Press. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-8014-8415-5. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Making ends meet: Bidi workers in India today; A study of four states". Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Office. 2003. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  14. ^ Census of India, Central Provinces and Berar XII. 1931. 
  15. ^ Brahmachari Sitalprasad, Jain Bauddha TatvaJnana, JainVijay Press, 1934
  16. ^ a b c Kamboj, M. (2008). "Bidi Tobacco". British Dental Journal 205 (12): 639. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2008.1088. 
  17. ^ Imām, Hassan (1999). Indian national movement. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. p. 200. ISBN 978-81-261-0199-3. 
  18. ^ "2006 National Youth Tobacco Survey and Key Prevalence Indicators". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2009. 
  19. ^ For US banning flavoured tobacco, see Heavey, Susan (22 Sep 2009). "U.S. FDA, in first tobacco action, bans flavors". Reuters. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  20. ^ RB Govekar and RA Bhisey (1992). "Elevated urinary thioether excretion among bidi rollers exposed occupationally to processed tobacco". International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 64 (2): 101–104. doi:10.1007/BF00381476. PMID 1399018. 
  21. ^ "Restoring the Balance: Women and forest resources". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Forestry Department. 1987. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  22. ^ a b Mahimkar, MB; Bhisey, RA (1995). "Occupational exposure to bidi tobacco increases chromosomal aberrations in tobacco processors". Mutation Research 334 (2): 139–144. PMID 7885365. 

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