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Beedi – Another Threat To Life

The emergence of cigarettes in India is a much later phenomenon. It entered with the penetration of western influence into the country. But does that mean Indians were unknown to the use of tobacco? Not at all, evidence of smoking can be traced back to the ancient period in this subcontinent. And, this was known as Beedi. This is a hand-rolled herbal cigarette that combines cloves, betel nut and tobacco.

Beedi – Another Threat To Life
Women packing Beedi
When compared to its later descendant cigarette, beedis are cheaper and hence, accessible to all. This is one of the grave reasons for the increasing number of smokers in India. It has been found that 73 percent of the total smokers are addicted to this so called 'herbal' inhalation. However, the fact is, beedi is equally harmful and like cigarettes, the effect of passive smoking its poisonous smoke is detrimental.

Global PopularityBeedi is also known as 'the poor man’s cigarette' because it is widely used by the people from the lower socioeconomic background in India. Its popularity can also be seen in Bangladesh, Nepal and some of the South Asian countries. The nicotine and tar content are higher in beedi when compared to that of a cigarette. By the middle of 20th century, the production of this tobacco roll grew exponentially and it emerged as a highly competitive industry.

Roughly, eight beedis are sold for every cigarette. More than 85 percent of the world's beedi production is done in India and the country even exports its flavored form to the USA. As far as its smoking in India is concerned, the number of beedi smokers are 10 times more than cigarette smokers.

Health Impact
Being yet another product made from the flakes of tobacco, beedi can leave a carcinogenic impact on health. This is one of the leading reasons for lungs and oral cavity and can even develop the chances of gastric cancers. According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, the risk of the gastric cancers is increasing because of the growing exposure to beedi. 42 percent of these are male smokers from the rural section, whereas 21 percent are from the urban population in India. Apart from the various forms of cancers, this traditional form of cigarette can cause heart disease and the risk of heart attack is three times higher. There are also chances of chronic bronchitis.

Usually, a smoker takes five puffs on a single beedi compared to two puffs on a regular cigarette in just a minute. What makes this herbal roll harmful is its toxic smoke that contains hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, other volatile phenols, and carcinogenic hydrocarbons. This means, the smokers as well as the people face the negative impacts on their health. It delivers three to five times more tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine.

Beedi Vs. Cigarette
Frankly speaking, it is useless to compare which is worse for health – beedi or cigarette. Both are harmful and leave a devastating impact on our health in its own way. If exposed for long duration, these can even cause death. As most of the beedi smokers are from the rural area and often suffer from a low level of awareness and knowledge, they believe beedi is a less harmful substitute of cigarette. But the fact is the chances of developing oral cancers are chronic in beedi smokers.

Yes, the statuary warning on a pack of beedi is not available, but that does not proclaim this tobacco-roll as less harmful or that the ill effect of passive smoking is any less. It is also important to understand that even if the process of manufacturing this product is purely herbal, this is a major threat to life, which nobody deserves.
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