Time to ban public spitting/betel chew spitting – Especially, to stop the spread of Corono Pandemic
Posted on April 26th, 2020

Chanaka Bandarage

General Spitting and expectorate (eg. phlegm, mucus)

People do not care about spitting in public places.  They have become accustomed to it. They will continue to do it freely and openly, without fear. 

It is very bad for sanitary and health reasons. Their actions cause environmental pollution/public nuisance.  It is very bad for tourism.

Given the Corono Pandemic, it is of paramount importance that public spitting is made illegal. 

Those who continue to spit publicly should be fined.

(In Arizona, USA spitting on sidewalks or in public buildings could bring a $500 fine).

Spitting out Betel chew

In the last 30 years or so a large number of people gave up cigarette smoking. Unfortunately, many of them  instead took up betel chewing

They chew betel leaves with areconuts, tobacco and lime. 

It is incredible that a very large number of young people have taken up this bad habit.

Betel chewing in big cities/towns is largely prevalent among people of ‘lower social strata’. They are mostly heavy duty labourers. These are people who do hard physical work.

Betel chewing operates as a stimulus.  It keeps people awake. Thus, it is ideal for heavy vehicle/bus drivers, three-wheeler drivers and bus conductors. They labour for many hours a day. One could often see them spitting out betel chew in to public from inside their vehicles.

Colombo streets are littered full of these red spills.

Literally, they are everywhere on our roads and sidewalks. During dry seasons, they last for long times. Only rains would wash them away.

As they have no other choice, people are compelled to walk on betel chew spit, all the time.

Like normal spit, betel chew spit also causes our cities and towns very unclean and unhygienic. They are a major source of environmental pollution. Tourists hate them.

Now with the deadly Corona Pandemic very much in, public spitting of betel chew and associated expectorate (eg. phlegm, mucus) can bring forth death and destruction to people. Hence, this practice must be banned with immediate effect.

If people want to publicly chew betel (with or without nuts/other ingredients), they should be asked to collect their own spit (in private containers), and safely dispose them; more preferably take them home with them.

Severe fines should be imposed on people who are found for violating the measures to stop betel chew spitting.

Those who dispose their containers irresponsibly (people may try to leave them in busy places, parks, public utility terminals); such people should face criminal sentencing.

(The betel chew is extremely addictive. Chewing of betel nut should be discouraged at every level – they cause oral cancer, throat cancer, and even cardio-vascular arrhythmias).

Way forward

Despite the curfew, many people still walk on our roads/streets. They include the armed forces/police personnel, and street cleaners. Because of the spits, these good, hard working people could easily become infected with the Corona Virus.

We should also not forget the homeless people, beggars who live on the streets.

There are many others who use the roads/streets.

Hence, the ban must be implemented immediately, to save lives.

It is important to launch a massive publicity campaign about the ban.

 (A chewinggum ban is successfully in place in Singapore since early 1990s).

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