Selling Betel Leaves? You’ll be Deported Immediately

Joy Sengupta
Filed on October 10, 2008

DUBAI — Have you seen a shopkeeper selling betel leaves (paan) or its variants like Pan Parag or Pan Masala etc.? Well, in that case you stand to earn a reward of Dh5,000 if you pass on this information to civic authorities.

Dubai Municipality was earlier giving a reward of Dh2,000 for the same, which has been hiked to Dh5,000.

Any shopkeeper caught selling betel leaves, Pan Parag, Pan Masala or chewing tobacco etc., will be deported immediately, Hussain Nasser Lootah, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality (DM) announced on Wednesday.

Launching the first phase of the DM campaign against spitting and littering, named “Say Yes to a Clean Naif”, Lootah reiterated that manufacturing and selling of such products is banned in the emirate.

The import, sale and use of betel leaves and its alternatives has been banned according to the Local Order No 11 of 2003.

“From now on, we are not going to give the guilty a first, second or third warning. They will be deported immediately.

“Shops found selling these products will be closed down without any delay,” Lootah made it clear.

Besides being exposed to many a health risk, a majority of people chewing betel leaves and other such products spit on the roads, which tarnishes the beauty of the city.

“This is a serious problem and we need to get rid of it. Many shops and groceries are selling these products secretly. Inspections will be intensified to trace the violators. People need to be aware about the laws and regulations,” Lootah said.

The Municipality imposes a fine of Dh500 on a person found spitting in public.

Meanwhile, the DM’s month-long campaign, which continues until November 13, is aimed at restoring the old charm of Naif area, DM officials said.

“The campaign aims to transform the busy Naif area into a cleaner place that suits the name and fame of Dubai.

The campaign will create awareness among residents about general cleanliness, and will ask them not to throw cigarette butts and other wastes on roads. They will also be asked to stop spitting in public places, aside from discouraging the practice of hanging clothes on the balconies,” Lootah said.

Subsequently, the campaign will be taken to other areas of the city such as Al Ghubaiba, Al Sabkha, Al Fuhaidi, Al Karama, Al Qusais and Al Qouz.

An open invitation to mouth cancer

DUBAI — Chewing betel leaves with tobacco can lead to pre-cancerous conditions, says a senior health expert.

Though chewing a plain betel leaf (paan) might not be that harmful for a person’s health, but adding tobacco or ghutka (flavouring) creates pre-cancerous conditions in the mouth, stomach and throat, and damages gums,” says Dr Murali Srinivasan, Specialist Dentist, Head of Department, Advanced Dentistry, Jebel Ali Hospital, Dubai.

“A socially repulsive habit, people tend to spit anywhere and everywhere after chewing plain betel nut and leaf,” explains the doctor. “The added colours in the betel nut can also lead to staining of teeth which require special cleaning,” he says.

Dr Murali says that if the paan is chewed with tobacco or ghutka, it could cause the softer tissues of the mouth and cheeks to harden, leading to oral cancer. “This thickening of the mouth means that pre-cancerous conditions have been created, which of course are harmful to health,” he adds.

Betel chewing is addictive and has effects of alkaloids, which are comparable to nicotine in its stimulating, mildly intoxicating and appetite-suppressing effects on the mind. Asma Ali Zain

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