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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, but is taken via products that are chewed or sucked. They are popular in places like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but are also used in the UK.

These products come in different forms including Betel quid, Paan and Gutkha, zarda and khaini.

What’s in them?

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

Are they dangerous?

Most types 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 does contain tobacco, 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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