As Youths Light Up, Health Activists Fume Over Bidis
The sweet-flavored, readily available cigarettes are the rage among underage smokers. Officials warn that they pose greater risks than regular brands
Ask 16-year-old Anna why she smokes bidi cigarettes and she'll glance down at her clunky platform sandals, look up knowingly and smile:
They're the latest trend.
They give a real buzz, adds 15-year-old Erika, with her pierced navel and lace-trimmed tank top. Strawberry bidis are best, say the two friends, lounging at a Starbucks after a day at the Huntington Beach pier. Or maybe the vanilla ones.
"A cigarette calms you down," Anna said. "Bidis have a nice rush to them. I think it's the closest thing to illegal drugs you can buy legally."
Actually, like all cigarettes, the imported bidis cannot be legally sold to those under 18. But that hardly seems to be impeding some teenagers.
Bidis, which resemble marijuana joints and come in flavors like mango, wild cherry and chocolate, have become so popular among urban youths that alarmed health experts are warning that they are more dangerous than regular cigarettes.