Bidis and Kreteks
Bidis are small, thin, hand-rolled cigarettes imported to the United States, primarily from India and other Southeast Asian countries. They comprise tobacco wrapped in a tendu or temburni leaf (plants native to Asia) and may be secured with a colorful string at one or both ends. Bidis can be flavored (e.g., chocolate, cherry, mango) or unflavored.1,2
Kreteks—sometimes referred to as clove cigarettes—are imported from Indonesia and typically contain a mixture of tobacco, cloves, and other additives.3,4
Bidis and kreteks have higher concentrations of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide than conventional cigarettes sold in the United States.1,3,5,6
Neither bidis nor kreteks are safe alternatives to conventional cigarettes.4,5
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) of 2009 prohibits the sale of flavored cigarettes in the United States; therefore, kreteks are no longer legally sold in the U.S.
Because of the low prevalence of use, a limited amount of research on the long-term health effects of bidis has been conducted in the United States.7 However, research studies from India indicate that bidi smoking is associated with cancer and other adverse health conditions.2
- Bidis are a combustible tobacco product. Smoke from a bidi contains three to five times the amount of nicotine as a regular cigarette and places users at risk for nicotine addiction.7
- Bidi smoking increases the risk for oral cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer.6,8,9,10
- Bidi smoking is associated with a more than threefold increased risk for coronary heart disease and acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).6,11
- Bidi smoking is associated with emphysema10 and a nearly fourfold increased risk for chronic bronchitis.6
Because of the low prevalence of use, a limited amount of research on the long-term health effects of kreteks has been conducted in the United States. However, research studies from Indonesia indicate that kretek smoking is associated with lung problems.
- Kretek smoking is associated with an increased risk for acute lung injury (i.e., lung damage that can include a range of characteristics, such as decreased oxygen, fluid in the lungs, leakage from capillaries, and inflammation), especially among susceptible individuals with asthma or respiratory infections.4
- Regular kretek smokers have 13 to 20 times the risk for abnormal lung function (e.g., airflow obstruction or reduced oxygen absorption) compared with nonsmokers.12
Note: CDC last published estimates of bidi use among youth in 2017. Variables regarding bidi use do remain available in the NYTS datasets. Since 2018, bidi use still is taken into account for estimates of overall tobacco use and combustible tobacco use.
Percentage of U.S. students who were current bidi smokers* in 201713
- 0.3% of all middle school students1
- 0.7% of all high school students
- 0.6% of female high school students
- 0.7% of male high school students
*Current smokers are defined as persons who reported smoking bidis on at least one day in the 30 days before they participated in a survey about this topic.
†Data for middle school students by sex are statistically unreliable as sample size was 0.3; therefore an estimate is not provided.
- The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) of 2009 prohibits the sale of flavored cigarettes in the United States; therefore, data on the use of kreteks are no longer collected. For the latest estimates of kretek use among U.S. middle school and high school students, please see the article entitled Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2013.14
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bidi Use Among Urban Youth—Massachusetts, March–April 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1999;48(36):796–9 [accessed 2015 Nov 9].
- Bidi Cigarettes: An Emerging Threat to Adolescent Health. Archives Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2000;154:1187–9 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Clove Cigarette Smoking: Biochemical, Physiological, and Subjective Effects. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 2003;74:739–45 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- World Health Organization. Tobacco: Deadly in Any Form or Disguiseexternal icon. [PDF–1.2 MB] Geneva: World Health Organization, 2006 [accessed 2015 Nov 9].
- Determination of the Tar, Nicotine, and Carbon Monoxide Yields in the Smoke of Bidi Cigarettes. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2003;5(5):747–53 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Bidi Smoking and Health. Public Health 2000;114:123–7 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Bidi Cigarette Use Among Young Adults in 15 States. Preventive Medicine 2004;39:207–11 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Bidi Smoking and Oral Cancer: A Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Cancer 2003;106:600–4 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Risk Factors for Cancer of the Oesophagus in Kerala, India. International Journal of Cancer, 1991;49:485–9 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Gupta PC, Asma S. Bidi Smoking and Public Healthpdf iconexternal icon. [PDF–2.52 MB] New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Services, Government of India, 2008 [accessed 2015 Nov 9].
- Risk Factors for Acute Myocardial Infarction in Indians: A Case-Control Study. Lancet 1996;348:358–63 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Environmental and Occupational Lung Diseases in Indonesia. Respirology 1996;1:85–93 [cited 2015 Nov 9].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2015;64(14):381–5 [accessed 2015 Nov 9].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011–2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2018;67(22):629–33 [accessed 2018 Aug 8].
For Further Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
Media Inquiries: Contact CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health press line at 770-488-5493.