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Selling Death on Social Media: How Bidis Are Reaching Consumers Online

Nearly 72 million adults in India use bidis, with more than 47% of tobacco users in India smoking their first bidi before their 10th birthday. India’s homegrown bidi industry is notoriously unregulated and is extending its reach into another space often lacking in oversight: social media.

Our new study reveals that India’s bidi industry is exploiting the rapid growth of social media to directly market products to consumers online where restrictions are difficult to enforce. Exposure to bidi marketing leads to an increased likelihood of tobacco use among new and current consumers, especially youth.

This report summarizes data from TERM, a new digital media monitoring tool, and explores how and through which social media platforms bidis are marketed to consumers.