US FDA starts to stamp out Indian bidis WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday banned four kinds of bidis from a little-known company in India as part of a renewed American effort to stamp out unregulated import of dangerous tobacco products under new authority vested in the agency. Just days after FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg returned from India, agency officials announced that four bidi brands made by Jash International â€” Sutra Bidis Red, Sutra Bidis Menthol, Sutra Bidis Red Cone and Sutra Bidis Menthol Cone â€” may no longer be domestically sold, distributed or imported. The bidis were banned not because of any imminent danger â€” although it is well-known that all tobacco products are dangerous â€” but because Jash failed to provide ingredient information that is mandatory under new rules. In a conference call on Friday, not specifically related to the bidi issue, commissioner Hamburg denied the FDA was targeting Indian companies, but said the United States has a strict quality control regime for all products being imported into America. ''When products are sold in the United States for use by American citizens, then those products have to meet our regulatory standards and requirements and we inspect those facilities in other countries as well," she told reporters after her first official trip to India, where FDA action against India-based pharmaceutical companies have been the focus of attention. But US efforts to stamp out bidi imports and smoking in America has a history going back some two decades when the Indian mini-cigarette started to become a fad among youth after hippies had first lit them up in the sixties. A 2002 survey showed close to 3% of American male high school students had tried bidis, which, because they were largely unregulated, were easier for the youth to access â€” particularly after the US cracked down on sale of cigarettes to the under-aged. Over the last decade, bidis also began to appear in various all-American, candy-like flavors: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, adding newer flavors such as grape, cinnamon, watermelon, menthol, black licorice, wild cherry, and mandarin orange, as the craze caught on. No accurate figures are available about the extent of bidi imports from India but estimates by an international trade group in the 1990s put import from India at 448 million pieces valued at less than $5 million. The Clinton administration tried to ban import of beedis around that time after a CBS 60 Minutes program showed child labor in the industry that employs an estimated 3 million people in India. But it was never fully carried through. The health and economic cost of smoking is something that has seized developed countries even as developing countries continue to get sucked into western-inspired tobacco consumption that is far more lethal and pervasive than bidi imports to America. A 2010 WHO study estimated that smoking in developed countries will amount to 29% of world tobacco consumption (down from 34% in 1998), while developing countries' share, now said to be growing at around 3% every year, will be 71%. Some six million people die every year from tobacco-related illness â€” 80% of them in low-income countries. US FDA starts to stamp out Indian bidis - The Times of India ************************************************* All tobacco products are harmful. But what is interesting is that the FDA did not ban the bidis because they were injurious to health, but because failed to provide ingredient information that is mandatory under new rules!! Bureaucracy the world over have brains in the wrong part of their anatomy! Through this article I came to know that there are so many types of bidis with exotic flavours!