LAHORE: The traders and sellers of betel nuts and paan on Friday staged a protest outside the Lahore Press Club against the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) and threatened to spread their protest countrywide if their demands were not met.
The PFA on January 27 had imposed a ban on the sale of betel nuts after the PFA scientific panel’s report, which stated that the use betel nuts may cause mouth, throat, oral and stomach cancer.
A large number of protesting paan sellers and traders reached the Lahore Press Club in a rally that began from the Lahore Railway Station.
They said that the PFA had given a deadline till March 30, but its staff had started harassing the paan/cigarette shopkeepers in the name of inspection. “We always cooperated with the PFA and authorities regarding the sale of prohibited items. Now they are forcing us to shut our shops by 11 pm,” they said.
They also claimed to contribute a revenue over 35 billion to the economy as millions of people were associated with the business.
They blamed that the government was posing a ban on the sale of paan’s tobacco and consequently encouraging cigarette in the country on the cigarette manufacturers’ demand. “How is it possible that the tobacco used in paan is injurious and cigarettes are safe,” they said while adding that cigarettes were more injurious than consuming betel nuts and paan.
All Pakistan Paan Tobacco Association President Waseem while speaking to Pakistan Today, said that the PFA’s ban was nothing but financial exploitation of the people associated with the business. He also alleged that the government by taking such a decision wanted to benefit the cigarette brands of a neighboring country.