The Federated States of Micronesia (Pohnpei State), Palau and Marshall Islands are few of the Pacific Island Countries that have a betel nut legislation to control the habit of betel nut chewing. Betel nut chewing is now established as a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation so like all other cancer causing agents/habits, there should specific legislation in countries that this habit is widespread.
In PNG, betel nut chewing is uncontrolled resulting in unsightly sights within the urban areas. This week I read on social media about police physically assaulting betel nut sellers in Port Moresby. This practice has been going for a while now but it seems that 2019 has been the worst year of police physically abusing people selling betel nut – especially in Port Moresby, PNG’s capital.
So can legislation targeted at controlling the habit of betel nut chewing prevent and control the habit? And indirectly controlling the unhygienic scenes observed in PNG’s capital Port Moresby? Betel nut is widely chewed in Pohnpei (one of the States of FSM) but the streets are clean and there are very few red betel nut stains. Ponhpei introduced the Betel Nut Prohibition Act 2010 in 2010 to control this habit. The Act prohibits the chewing of betel nut in shops, offices, public areas, parks and spitting of the quid in public places. Offenders are fined or sometimes required to do community service. The Act also mandates shops, private and public institutions to put up notices on the walls or doors to inform the public of the prohibition and the penalty if caught. Similar legislation ought to be introduced in PNG!
I think it is about PNG introduced a Betel Nut (or Buai Prohibition Act) Prohibition Act.