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Paan chewers continue to stain walls in busy districts

06/10/2009 07:09 PM

Dubai: There is large network of people involved in getting betel leaves, betel nut, niswar (a type of tobacco) and other ingredients into the country, a senior Dubai Municipality official told Gulf News.

Paan is a small parcel of betel nut, tobacco and other ingredients wrapped in a betel leaf. It is made up of several natural and chemical elements that can be harmful to users.

In Dubai, chewing and spitting of paan, especially in public places, was prohibited following Local Order No 28 of 1985.

But despite regulation, the paan business continues to flourish in the busy areas of Bur Dubai and Deira.

Paan chewers turn a blind eye to the various initiatives adopted by the municipality to the keep the city clean and continue to go on a spitting spree, dirtying street corners, pavements, walls and staircases.

In October last year, the municipality further tightened their grip on those in the paan business by imposing a zero tolerance against those who make, sell or chew paan in the emirate.

According to the municipality, people caught selling or making paan will face stiff penalties and deportation.

There is a reward of Dh5,000 to those who provide tips to the municipality on paan sellers and manufacturers.

Hassan Makki, director of Waste Management, said that so far 15 people have been caught by a joint team from Dubai Police and the municipality.

"We have found that paan is prepared in houses. Most of those involved in this business are illegals. There are several ways by which these betel leaves are sneaked into the country. It is not directly imported into the country but transported by land. One of the common means is to layer it underneath fruit boxes," he said.

Last month, the municipality inspection team nabbed a shopkeeper in Al Sabka area in Deira and confiscated 500 kilograms of ingredients used in the preparation of paan.

He said inspection teams work on tip-offs from the public. So far three informers have been rewarded.

"If a member of public wants to inform on these paan operators, we ask them to get in touch with the police first so that we secure a letter to enter the premises&," he said.

Health impact: Deadly effects

The effects of chewing paan are very similar to that of chewing tobacco. Many people think that chewing paan is safer than smoking tobacco, but studies have shown that instead of being safer, they are equally, if not more detrimental to one's health.

This is because paan with betel nut and the other ingredients is kept in your mouth for minutes at a time, causing more harmful chemicals to enter your body than when you smoke.

Some of the effects of chewing paan are:

Halitosis: Chewing paan causes bad breath in all users.
Gum and Tooth Disease: Paan permanently discolours teeth. Its direct and repeated contact with the gums causes them to recede, which can cause your teeth to fall out.
Cancer: Cancer of the mouth (including the lip, tongue, and cheek) and throat are very common among paan users. Cancers most frequently occur at the site where paan with tobacco is held in the mouth. Surveys reveal that risk of cancers of the cheek and gum may reach nearly 50-fold among long-term snuff users. The surgery for this could lead to removal of parts of your face, tongue, cheek or lip.

Source: Apollo Health

Did you know there was an award for reporting shops that sell paan? Would this be helpful in clamping down on paan sellers?

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