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Naswar sales on the rise and so are associated hazards

Naswar sales on the rise and so are associated hazards

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Dec 29, 2016 - 11:48

HERAT CITY (Pajhwok): The use of powdered tobacco snuff, which causes gum cancer, is on the rise in western Herat province, an official said on Thursday.

Ghulam Ghaus, 70, a resident of the provincial capital, has been addicted to and making the drug, locally known as naswar, over the past 20 years.

Selling naswar -- an addictive mix of sun-dried tobacco leaves, slaked lime, ash from tree bark and coloring agents, has been a major livelihood source for the old man.

He says the drug’s sales have shot up, earning him 4,000 to 5,000 afghanis on a daily basis. Snuff is one of tobacco products, whose hazard is rarely discussed.

Unaware of the harm resulting from naswar, the man says: “I produce the drug from crushed tobacco leaves, lime and wood ash.” One package sells for five to 10 afghanis

Naswar, also known as naas, vendors say most of their customers are youth. Ghaus Ahmadi, another snuff seller in Herat City, confirms: “The sales of tobacco have risen dramatically in recent years. “I sell 200 to 300 packets a day.”

Bahadar Timori, a resident of Herat, has been using the drug over the past 12 years. “Now I have realised its negative effects. Many times I tried to quit it but I have been unable to do so. Snuff-induced bad breath (halitosis) is such a big embarrassment.”

Inhabitants blame tobacco users for damaging the environmentinfo-icon. Mohammad Sardar says: “Many of the addicts are unaware of the drug’s harmful effects. The drug, a public healthinfo-icon hazard, also contributes to pollution as users spit it out in public places.”

Another inhabitant, Saboor Shah, also calls naswar a pollutant whose use should be curbed.

Rafiq Rahimi, an environmental health official, told Pajhwok Afghan News there was no law prohibiting snuff sales. However, his department has been able to sensitise people on its harm.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bahnam Fardis, a health expert, called mouth cavity, tooth decay and especially gum cancer the outcome of naswar consumption.

According to a study conducted a few years back in Herat City, 35 percent of Afghans are addicted to different tobacco products and 50 percent are indirectly affected by their harm.

sns/mud

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