Council tries to stamp out chewing tobacco in Newham

Officers target shopkeepers selling paan illegally

The biggest ever crackdown on the sale of chewing tobacco – called paan - is taking place in the Green Street area of Upton Park and Forest Gate.

About 10,000 packets of paan – a mixture of nuts and spices wrapped in a leaf and widely used by the Asian community – has been seized so far.

The huge haul has been seized in a rolling programme of raids involving Newham Trading Standards officers and the council’s Street Scene Enforcement Officers.

Paan is a mixture of tobacco, nuts and spices and is wrapped in a leaf. Some shopkeepers evade paying duty when selling it. Often the product does not have UK standard health warnings. Shopkeepers face prosecution if they sell it illegally.

The mixture is a tradition dating back hundreds of years and considered by some to be a palate cleanser as well as a breath freshener.

Users spit the mixture onto the pavements, leaving unsightly dark red, blood-like stain.

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And health chiefs warn that that using smokeless tobacco including paan raises the risk of mouth cancer and oesophageal (food pipe) cancer.

Newham Council’s Cllr Unmesh Desai, Executive Member for Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, said: “Paan staining is unsightly and expensive to clean. We have a zero tolerance approach to crime and anti-social behaviour here and we simply won’t stand for it. Users are risking their health – and even their lives.”

Contact Consumer Direct on 01622 626520 or if you spot shops selling paan illegally.