Flavored imported smokes appeal to teens
Some tobacco manufacturers have found a new niche market for their products.
The newest fad among teen smokers is smoking flavored cigarettes called 'bidis.' Bidis, available in strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavors, are special hand-rolled cigarettes imported from India. ``They're dessert with a cigarette,'' says Leah Parrish, 19, standing outside a tobacco store in Little Five Points, Atlanta. Bidis â€” sometimes called beedies and about half the size of regular cigarettes â€” are filled with tobacco flakes, hand-rolled with a greenish-brown leaf, tapered at both ends and tied with a tiny, colored thread. Bidis cost less than regular cigarettes, averaging $2 for a pack of 20. And they're drawing youngsters to smoking even better than Joe Camel, some health officials say. Teens say they're cute, trendy, less bitter and more natural than domestic smokes. A survey last year found that 58 percent of students at four San Francisco high schools had tried bidis. However, teenagers do not realize that these flavored cigarettes are more harmful than regular cigarettes and that an unfiltered bidi releases at least two times more tar and nicotine.