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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rolling the Indian way

A picture of a packet of Ganesh Beedis

I've been smoking beedis the past few weeks, and I think I actually like them. For the uninitiated, the beedi is a bit of tobacco (about a fifth of the amount found in a cigarette) rolled into a tendu leaf. A picture of a tendu leaf, Diospyros melonoxylonNow, I'm not going to be naive and promote the wonders of smoking beedis because they have 80% less tobacco, simply because it's harmful to smoke anything in the first place. Not to mention the fact that there is no filter, so you're getting pure smoke straight into your lungs, perhaps just they way some of you like it.

The possible benefit I can think of is that they're dirt cheap. Oh great, perfect time to be a cheapskate, when you're slowly but surely killing yourself. But there are serious implications of smoking an obviously more than affordable kind of cigarette, and unfortunately many of these implications lie on the production side of all things beedi.

According to Making beedis - Born To Be Free, there is a serious child-labor element to the production of beedis. As it turns out, and sadly enough, this industry is a sweatshop that produces filter-less death-sticks and employs whole families to partake in the hazardous manufacture of this product. Sad but true people, and even though there are more and more of us smoking beedis today, because it's apparently fashionable too, it only means that more and more of the "unfortunate" will find themselves involved in a trade that ironically provides them with livelihood, and then takes away their life. What do I mean? Well, working with tobacco like this on a continuous basis, almost always without gloves or other protective gear, the workers absorb potent quantities of nicotine and other usual suspects we have come to identify as harmful in the consumption of tobacco.

I like beedis because they seem so cute. Strange reason, I know, but they just come out looking so petite, with the little bit of a label and a piece of white string. It's like each was individually rolled for you, and the string is like a bit of red ribbon on a gift. They do take a little getting used to, and sure they kill people as both the US Government and articles on websites like will tell you. But that's never stopped people, eh? I mean, if there's something that I've learned in my life, the more things are "bad" for you, the more people do these things.

I'd like to leave you with an advert about flavored beedis, because, if nothing else, we eventually want to go in many flavors. Take your pick, there's cherry, clove, cinnamon, and lemon, to name a few. Give it a try, who knows, you may like it.


1) Information for this post was taken from
Wikipedia. The entry is titled Beedi.
2) Information about the use of child labor in the production of beedis was taken from
Making beedis - Born To Be Free.
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