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Tobacco Prevention Coalition
Health Department

Bidis and Kreteks (a.k.a. clove cigarettes)


Bidis (or "beedies") are small, flavored, filterless Indian cigarettes. Bidis are tobacco, hand-rolled in a tendu or temburi leaf (plants native to Asia), and tied with colorful strings on the ends.

Health Risks

Bidis are not a "safe" alternative to cigarettes. Available scientific research indicates that bidi smokers run the risk of developing oral cancers, lung cancers, and other health problems - just like cigarette smokers. According to the CDC, an unfiltered bidi releases three to five times more tar and nicotine than a regular cigarette, despite containing less tobacco. Bidi smoke also contains more deadly chemicals, such as ammonia and carbon monoxide, than regular cigarette smoke.

According to the tobacco product definitions of the Federal Trade Commission, the Food & Drug Administration, most if not all state laws, and the Master Settlement Agreement, bidis fall under the definition of cigarettes. Therefore, among other things: 

  • packs of bidis must display the Surgeon General's Warning,
  • it is illegal to sell bidis to minors, and
  • bidis are taxed at the same rate as cigarettes, and must bear tax stamps.


Clove Cigarettes

Clove cigarettes, also called kreteks ("kree-teks"), are imported mainly from Indonesia or other Southeast Asian countries. Kreteks contain 60% to 70% tobacco and 30% to 40% ground cloves, clove oil, and other additives.

Health Risks

Clove cigarettes generate the same health risks as cigarettes. Clove cigarettes deliver more nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar than regular cigarettes.

For information on both bidis and kreteks please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.