Contest aims to get betelnut fans to quit

The China Post staff

Health authorities have launched a contest to encourage people to quit chewing betelnuts, offering winners free overseas trips, a local newspaper reported yesterday. People who are over 18 years old and have had the habit of chewing the so-called ‘Taiwanese chewing gum’ for more than one year can participate in the contest, which challenges them to not chew betelnuts for a month, according to the United Evening News.

The deadline to sign up the contest is Oct. 5 for individual contenders and Oct. 8 for groups.

Those who pass the challenge could win free trips abroad with their families, the paper reported. The contest is run by the Bureau of Health Promotion under the Cabinet-level Department of Health. There are around 2 million betelnut users in Taiwan, a high risk group of oral cancer. Children as young as four years old have been found to have used betelnuts. The bureau was cited by the paper as indicating that nine out of 10 oral cancer patients are betelnut chewers. About 30 percent of those chewers have tried to quit, but most have failed, the bureau said.