Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Health department pans betel nut plan

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Department of Health has sent a letter to the Hsinchu County Government criticizing a proposal to promote betel nut to Chinese tourists.

According to local media reports, Hsinchu County Commissioner Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳) is planning to lead a delegation of female betel nut sellers to a food fair in Nanjing in September. Chiu had reportedly said that Taiwan could market the betel nut as a Taiwanese specialty to the Chinese, who are very curious about Taiwanese culture.

In Taiwan, betel nut is usually sold at roadside stands by skimpily clad young women. The betel nut industry creates up to NT$50 billion (US$1.7 billion) in revenues each year, Chiu said.

However, the Bureau of Health Promotion said in the letter it sent on Wednesday that betel nut was listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2003. Betel nut not only causes oral cancer, chewers who also smoke tobacco or drink liquor have a greater risk of developing throat and esophageal cancer, the bureau said.

It is more important to maintain Taiwan’s international image and make the health of the next generation the top priority, rather than considering only what boosts our local economy, said Chen Mei-ju (陳美如), section chief of the bureau.

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