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Paan And Gutkha: Just The Facts

It’s not just cigarettes, cigars and shisha pipes that contain tobacco.

Some people use tobacco that isn’t smoked. These are mainly used by people from places like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka but they are also used in the UK. These products are made using a range of ingredients and put in the mouth to be chewed or sucked.

There are lots of different forms of the product including Betel quid, Paan and Gutkha.  Sometimes they are used without tobacco.

What’s in them?

Usually, they contain sliced areca nut, slaked lime, a variety of herbs and spice and sometimes tobacco. This is wrapped in a betel leaf, which is then put in the mouth.

Other products like Gutkha, Zarda and khaini, often come ready packaged and usually include tobacco with different ingredients including areca nut, lime and spices.

Are they dangerous?

Most types of this kind of chewing tobacco contain around 28 different chemicals that can cause cancer. Just because the tobacco isn’t smoked doesn’t make it safe. It can increase the risk of a number of diseases including heart disease and mouth cancer.

If the mixture contains tobacco then the nicotine can make people addicted, making it a hard habit to break. Even if the product doesn’t contain tobacco people can find it very hard to stop chewing because it has become a habit.

Betel (areca) nut itself can also cause mouth cancer, even if no tobacco is added.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.

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