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'Bidis' Are a Bad Idea

Flavored cigarettes are even worse than the real thing

(HealthDay) -- The tiny, string-tied cigarettes come in flavors like strawberry, chocolate and mandarin orange. They're just so cute. Right? Maybe. But they're also just as deadly as regular cigarettes, health experts say.

According to an article in The Providence Journal, the Indian cigarettes, called bidis, might taste good, but they pack enough tobacco to do damage. And they produce higher levels of carbon monoxide, nicotine and tar than the average cigarette.

The problem is that kids and teens seem to think that because they taste good, they can't be bad for you. Health experts say they are nothing more than a ploy to hook kids on smoking, calling them a "starter kit" for children. Some states have banned the sale of bidis to minors. Other states have banned their sale altogether.

In India, bidis are known as the "poor man's cigarettes" because they cost much less than American cigarettes. In the United States, they are more of a niche product for kids trying to be cool. Like ankle bracelets and henna, the bidi is one more fashion accessory for some high school and college students. Some kids like that they look like marijuana cigarettes and the shock value that carries with it. Some kids also say bidis taste like a soda, with flavors ranging from vanilla to mango. Although they have less tobacco than cigarettes, they produce more toxic substances because the leaf wrapper doesn't burn that well and the filters are either ineffective or non-existent.

Once kids start smoking, it can be hard for them to quit. To find out why, you can read this information from Health Canada. Quitting isn't all that easy for adults, either. But the benefits are huge, and almost immediate. Here is a list of what happens 20 minutes after you quit, and 15 years after you quit, from About.com.

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