Paan, guthka eaters on ‘spitting rampage’
Kuwait ‘going red’ as
other cities go green
By Chidi Emmanuel
KUWAIT: As other cities of the world go ‘green and clean’, Kuwait City appears to be going red with red-dabbed walls, cat shit, garbage, crowded buses, unruly auto drivers and the list is endless. From the edges of the elevator to that of the public buses, one will always be greeted with a disgusting red-like salivary substances carefully deposited at one corner by paan and guthka eaters.
The sputum not only spoils the surroundings but may carry diseases and germs. “Although it may dry up and disappear but the germs remain and pollute the environment. Spitting is among the multitude of irritating anti-social behavior witnessed on a daily basis. It is the act of forcibly ejecting saliva or other substances from the mouth. It is usually considered rude and a social taboo in many parts of the world. Ordinarily, spitting is not a bad thing but it depends on where and when one spits, ” Dr Yaha Farouk explained.
In Kuwait, it is a common sight to see people spitting on the road, through the windows of cars and houses etc. Whereas behaviorism believes that punishment could help to reduce the probability of some bad behaviors - but for spitting -many people believe that publicity and punishment should be strengthened to make those with the bad habit change.
“It still needs more effort from the government and every resident to achieve the goal. I wish they (paan and guthka eaters) can carry a spitting utensil or polythene bag to collect their spit and dispose it at home. Better still is for them to kick the habit,” Jovi Marshal, a medical lab scientist said.
In Kuwait, selling, chewing and spitting of paan, especially in public places are prohibited, but despite regulation, the paan business continues to flourish in the busy areas of Kuwait City’s Maliya and Murgab. There seems to be a large network of people involved in getting betel leaves, betel nut, niswar (a type of tobacco) and other ingredients into the country.
“Paan chewers turn a blind eye to the various initiatives adopted by the municipality to the keep the city clean and continue on a spitting spree, dirtying street corners, pavements, walls and staircases. I couldn’t contain my anger when a paan eater sitting next to me in a City Bus silently dropped it on the floor. He soiled the environment with many noticing him. He has tasted his paan and dirtied over environment without hesitation. It is like taking a second hand smoke from smokers,” Jovi added in dismay.
Although paan and guthka is banned in Kuwait, they easily exchange hand in Kuwait City, Maliya, Murgab and other areas mostly populated by Indians and Bangladeshis. Whereas some paan eaters equate it to smokers, non eaters see them as disgusting things that pollutes the environment. “There is no difference between chewing gum, smoking and eating paan. I don’t see anything wrong in eating paan or guthka, but things only go bad when you don’t dispose it well. Spitting on the street, elevator, edge of the wall etc is very bad and should attract a fine but eating paan, smoking and chewing gum shouldn’t be an offence,” Rahim, an Indian expat argued in Kuwait City as he chewed his paan.
“We always tell them to clear up the mess anytime we catch them spitting. But it is difficult to catch these set of people (paan and guthka eaters). You cannot tell people to open their mouth for checks you know. They whole of these place is turning red as you can see (pointing to some areas around Muttahida complex in Kuwait City) but we are trying our best to keep them out of this disgusting habit,” Abdullah a policeman on duty said in Maliya. “The municipality is tightening their grip on those in the paan business by imposing a zero tolerance against those who make, sell or chew paan. People caught selling or making paan will face stiff penalties an official in the Kuwait municipality said.
Hussain Issa, a Kuwait University student, wants both the government and the people to help in keeping Kuwait clean . “I think our government should do more. Awareness is highly needed. Government can make rules, but it is the public who have to put them into practice. Some of these people have no civic sense. Fines are fine as a deterrent, but to ensure a clean, hygienic Kuwait, each one of us needs to respect public places, develop better bladder control and throw our litter in designated bins,” he said.
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.
Effects of chewing paan
Halitosis: Chewing paan causes bad breath.
Gum and Tooth Disease: Paan permanently discolors 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.