Chewing tobacco in India
Paan Making: Unhealthy stuff
The use of chewing tobacco is reaching at dangerously endemic levels in India. Students, professionals, taxi drivers, young and old - all take it. A recent survey identified the use of this bad habit by nearly 70% of college students in several Indian cities.
It's often called locally as "Gutka" (also known as gutkha, guttkha, guthka). The most common one in use is called "Sir". However those who can afford it use Paan Parag and Tulsi. Pan parag is made of betel nuts while Tulsi is grated tobacco both well known brand names of well known makers of chewing tobacco. This smokeless tobacco is so popular that highly qualified professionals like doctors also use it. The unhealthy habit often immigrates with the person to other areas of the planet. Young Asians in the UK often consume it.
Gutka's main ingredients are betel nuts mixed with areca nut, slaked lime, catechu and tobacco in granulated form. This mixture collectively known as pan masala is also added to betel leaves (known as Paan) may be harmless without the tobacco. The idea is to chew and later spit out or swallowed.
There could be several reasons for their use. Mostly due to its smoke free use and can be well hidden inside the mouth. The misconception is that it therefore does not create nuisances for others. Although tobacco promotion is officially banned in India, it is well targeted through the use of advertisements of brand name non-tobacco products. Its small, striking and low-cost sachets appeals to many young people.
Although its use is highly prevalent in most of whole South Asia its use in many parts of India is at endemic levels as much as it starts at preteen levels. Its use has also increased in south-east Asian countries of Taiwan and Papua New Guinea.
Gutka is very addictive and contains carcinogens. Although there are many anti-smoking and anti-gutka campaigns and many states have attempted to minimize its increasing usage by imposing sales tax, little is being done to completely ban its use. The Government should do more to stop its use.
Paan on the Streets of Bombay
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