State Counselor Calls Citizens to Curb Betel Chewing

By Kyaw Kha 13 September 2017

YANGON — State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has urged citizens to avoid chewing betel quid in order not to have “remorse.”

More than 7 million Myanmar citizens regularly chew betel quid and tobacco, which causes more than 60,000 deaths yearly, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her message at the launch of a six-week media campaign to eradicate betel chewing on Monday.

“It is a huge health challenge,” she said, calling the fight against the unhealthy habit a “national cause.”

Since the state counselor assumed office, she has instructed for public campaigns on the issue in hopes of deterring betel chewing.

Just one month after she assumed office, she introduced a new anti-betel policy to reduce the habit.

The President’s Office opened an online poll in June to collect the public’s thoughts on reducing betel quid chewing and spitting in government offices and public places. No official ban has been put into effect to date.

In her message, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called for public cooperation, especially to discourage schoolchildren under 13 years from starting.

Myanmar has the highest consumption of varieties of tobacco in betel quid among Asean countries, read Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s message.

The anti-betel campaign will be conducted in six cities in Yangon, Mandalay and Magwe regions, and aims to raise awareness about the adverse effects of betel chewing, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Educational clips about the adverse effects of betel chewing will be screened at cinemas as well as on state broadcaster Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) and Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). The Public Health Foundation has provided 250 million kyats (US$185,000) for the campaign, according to the ministry.