A CAMPAIGN has begun to crack down on people spitting a tobacco leaf-based mixture called paan because it is staining pavements.
Over the last few years the amount of paan spat on the streets of Wembley has increased dramatically. When it dries it leaves a dark red, blood-like stain, which is very difficult and costly to remove.
Brent Council's Neighbourhood Working team has given £18,000 to the campaign to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding spitting paan.
Spitting paan on the streets is illegal and, if caught, spitters can be fined £80 for criminal damage.
The campaign will include advertising along the High Road and Ealing Road with banners, stickers, posters, leaflets. The council spends £20,000 a year on cleaning Paan from streets.
Christine Collins, Neighbourhood Working manager, said: "Paan staining looks bad and makes and area look dirty and run down, which can lead to more crime and anti-social behaviour. Wembley's streets are cleaned every day. However, dried paan is very difficult to remove needing specialist cleaning using high pressure washing. Even this only removes 90 per cent."
Tobacco and betel nut in paan are highly addictive and can increase the risk of oral cancer by almost ten times.
It can cause severe problems with speech, swallowing, chewing and facial disfiguring.
Children and young people are becoming hooked at an early age and tobacco paan is wrongly perceived as a healthier and cheaper alternative to cigarettes.
Dr Jim Connelly, director of public health for NHS Brent, said: "It is important that people know that chewing Paan that contains tobacco can be harmful. Studies have shown higher rates of cancer, lesions in the mouth and gum disease among people who chew it regularly."
Brent and Harrow Trading Standards is working with paan sellers in the Wembley area to ensure that tobacco products are correctly labelled, contain appropriate health warnings and are not made available to those under 18.
They have carried out underage test purchases and fined traders who were not compliant.