Bidi smoke contains irritants and toxins like polyaromatic hydrocarbons, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, ammonia, and phenol, which makes it harmful for your health. Moreover, its smoke contains three to five times more nicotine and tar than cigarettes. The high amount of nicotine in bidi puts smokers who consume bidi at higher risk of developing a nicotine addiction. The addictive nature of nicotine can lead to repeated, long-term exposure to the components of bidi smoke. To shed more light on the harmful effects of bidi smoking, OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.
Is bidi smoke more harmful than cigarettes?
Since a bidi has no lining or filter, more smoke penetrates the body while smoking, making bidi more harmful. Due to the poor combustibility of the bidi wrapper and the higher puff frequency required to maintain the flame, bidi smoking delivers three to five times more nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide than cigarette smoking.
Health effects of bidi smoking
Bidi smokers are more likely to suffer from adverse cardiovascular and respiratory complications as compared to nonsmokers. Bidi smoke contains high concentrations of Carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb), which can have a severe effect on cardiovascular health, as well as irritating compounds like ammonia, and that can harm the respiratory system. Bidi smokers have the risk of developing many health hazards, including:
- Bidi smoking increases the risk of developing tongue, throat, oral, oesophageal, stomach, and lung cancers
- Bidis are equally responsible for bronchial hyperresponsiveness, lung function impairment, and have been linked to an increased risk of developing asthma
- Bidi smoking raises the risk of coronary artery disease and acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Bidi smoking has been linked to respiratory system harm, most notably the emergence of chronic bronchitis. Chemical irritants, such as ammonia, are present in bidi smoke. Ammonia exposure through inhalation causes adverse respiratory effects.
How can we reduce the usage?
Strong pictorial warnings will make it easier for current and potential tobacco users to understand the deadly consequences of consuming tobacco in any form. Smokers should be the target audience of anti-smoking initiatives. At the same time, reminding users who smoke bidi among our families, friends, and patients about the risks to their health is an effective intervention. Also, the government should immediately take effective action to reduce the number of smokers and build a tobacco-free nation.
There are several lifestyle moderations that can help in quitting smoking. This includes yoga, exercise, healthy diet, nicotine, and chewing gums. In fact, you can consult with your doctor to get tips to avoid smoking. As per research, life expectancy of smokers is around ten years less than that of non-smokers. Besides this, smoking leads to several health effects, which should be a warning enough to quit smoking. Be it bidi, cigarettes or hookah, each and every form of tobacco is extremely harmful for our health.