Issue of September 29, 2019
Mt. Province
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Ban on betel nut chewing in public places in city mulled
by AJ De Jesus Etchepari

Councilor Joel Alangsab wants to prohibit the chewing and spitting of betel quid in certain places in Baguio.

In a proposed ordinance, Alangsab wants to make it unlawful for any person to chew and/or spit betel quid or “moma” in a public utility vehicle, government-owned vehicle, or any other means of public transport for passengers, in accommodation and entertainment establishment, in public buildings, and in any public place.

The ordinance, however, will not prohibit the sale of betel nuts to adults.

Alangsab said “the city understands the need for betel nut sellers/vendors to earn a living.” Vendors/sellers will be encouraged to inform their buyers of the prohibitions against chewing “moma” and spitting betel quid in public places.

Violators will pay P1,000 on first offense; P2,000 on second offense; and P3,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months or both at the discretion of the court, suspension, or revocation of business permit (in case of a business entity or establishment) if applicable on third and subsequent offenses.

A task force will be formed to enforce the ordinance and will also conduct information, education, and communication campaigns and capacity building programs.

The same task force will prepare the implementing rules and regulations to be submitted to the sangguniang panlungsod for approval.

The task force will consist of the mayor as chair, the city council chair on committee on health and sanitation, ecology and environmental protection as vice chair, and representatives from different concerned offices and agencies as members.

In 2011, an ordinance was passed mandating “moma” chewers to spit into containers to ensure the sanitation of public places and to safeguard the health of people in the city.

In 2018, the implementation of the ordinance failed, based on the evaluation of the Legislative Monitoring and Evaluation Section of the Research Division under the SP.

Betel nut which is a component of betel quid is declared by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen.

Several studies have shown that betel nut can cause gum irritation, tooth decay, cancer of the mouth and esophagus, cardiovascular diseases, and other health problems.

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