Al Ain: Al Ain civic administration is cracking down on the sellers and users of paan, a tobacco and betel leaf-based mixture, confiscating 400kg of the banned substance from shops in downtown Al Ain.
Paan, which is mainly consumed by expatriates from the sub-continent, poses serious public health risks besides being an environment pollutant. The users spit a red mixture onto the streets which is difficult to remove when dried — a practice which is reportedly on the rise in the city.
The Public Health Department at Al Ain Municipality has also sought help from residents of the Oasis city to put the violation under control. “We have taken the action on numerous public complaints and need residents’ active and continuous support to combat this menace,” said an official of the municipality.
Selling paan and the substance used in its preparation is prohibited by law. Spitting on streets is also not tolerated as the municipality has imposed fines on many violators in the past. People have been asked to call toll free number 800 555 or the municipality’s emergency office number 993 to report paan sellers in their neighbourhoods.
Mohammad Al Shamsi, director of the Public Health Department, said eating paan was a bad habit and a violation of laws that affect the public health and safety and the environment. It also contravenes the laws on hygiene and appearance and culture of the city, he said.
The banned substance had been confiscated from a grocery shop and a supermarket in the Al Murabba business area. Municipal inspectors completed legal process and the shopkeepers were later fined in court.
He said periodic inspections have been intensified to recover all banned substances from shops that are employing different methods to cheat the civic administration. Some retail and wholesalers in the area, he said, were also found committing irregularities in the past.
Al Shamsi said the municipality is also keen on raising the level of awareness on the harmful effects of paan and the substances used in its preparation. It is a well-established that paan and tobacco substances are a main cause of mouth cancer, he added.