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Betel nut chewing in public to be banned soon in Myanmar

Betel nuts to be banned from public areas and tourist attraction sites

Myanmar authorities will launch a campaign to remove betel nut stands from public areas and tourist attraction sites as an initial step to cut its consumption, officials said on Sunday.

The campaign will be launched in metropolitan cities and big towns to keep them clean, the Ministry of Health and Sports said.

The project will include arrangement to substitute the business of betel nut selling with other vocations, said an official of the ministry, adding there will be further deterrent punishment if betel nut shops are found and spitting in prohibited areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

At the same time, the authorities are said to take steps to promote awareness of the danger of chewing betel nut which can cause oral cancer, throat cancer, gum cancer, tongue cancer and cavity cancer.

Many people chew betel nut for the energy boost it produces. This is likely due to the nut’s natural alkaloids, which release adrenaline. It may also result in feelings of euphoria and well being.

Research has revealed some serious health risks of betel nut. The World Health Organization classifies betel nut as a carcinogen. Many studies have shown a convincing link between betel nut use and cancer of the mouth and esophagus. Betel nut users are also at a higher risk for oral submucuous fibrosis. This incurable condition can cause stiffness in the mouth and eventually the loss of jaw movement.

Myanmar is reported to have most cases of oral cancer in Asia.

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