Fear and Loathing in Port Moresby: Chewing Over the Betel Nut Ban

Timothy Sharp

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

    Abstract

    Chewing betel nut, a mild stimulant, is a widespread and growing cultural practice throughout Papua New Guinea. Betel nut is the country’s most important domestic cash crop, supported by a large, complex, and often lucrative trade, which is today the most visible manifestation of a flourishing informal economy (Sharp 2012). Its consumption produces the voluminous amounts of red saliva splattered across the country’s roads, walls, posts, bins, offices, and buses, and has deleterious health consequences, not dissimilar to smoking tobacco. This has been the justification for recent attempts by National Capital District (NCD) Governor Powes Parkop to ban the sale and consumption of betel nut in Port Moresby. But the bans have also been fuelled by elements of moral panic that have flared a charged and divisive debate, and by government fears of what is beyond their control. This In Brief discusses the background to these bans, and considers some of the implications
    Original languageEnglish
    Commissioning bodyState, Society and Governance in Melanesia
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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