November 19, 2019
This weekend, my family and I visited our driver for a condolence on the death of his young son, who also worked in our Hotel.
The man died of mouth cancer … due to chewing paan (betel nut) and gutka.
Gutka, a tobacco-related narcotic, is truly the scourge of mouth cancer- and it is addictive!
In October, the Provincial Government enacted a tremendous law banning Gutka, with a heavy fine & imprisonment … while the nascent law is a positive step, the government has yet to follow up with effective implementation.
The problem is that for the consumers of this substance it is a narcotic. You can’t simply turn off a switch. Like other narcotics and behaviors, it is deeply ingrained in society and part of their lives – so much so that generations of families are consuming it concurrently. Besides, I don’t believe we have the infrastructure to provide medication, counselling or alternative therapies to “un-learn” this behavior.
Like the law, we have had strict rules restricting betel nut on the job (let alone gutka!)- but, like the law, we cannot effectively implement our own rule. We do physical checks and entry pat-downs – yet it makes its way into the staff canteen and staff areas. In spite of knowing their colleague’s cancer (which was in its final stage when diagnosed), no one has even reduced this consumption. Our own house maid, her mouth STUFFED, refuses to accept she’s chewing it – her mouth so full that she cannot even verbally defend herself!
On our condolence visit, not only was our driver’s wife consuming betel nut but their entire family was chewing away on it … nary a care to the reason behind reduction of their family’s size!
If the finality of death is not enough to scare such consumers to stopping this narcotic, what will ☠?