PNG Ban Hard to Chew …

Have now posted a new pic essay made during a recent visit to Papua New Guinea to “Latest Stories” on the web site of our collective ‘fotostrada’. The essay is entitled “Betel Nut Ban Hard to Chew” and it documents in pics (and words) the curious situation following the contentious imposition of a ban by the city of Port Moresby on the sale or public use of the traditional, natural but carcinogenic stimulant betel nut – known locally as ‘buai’.  The city cites the expense of the constant clean up of the bright red betel nut spittle stains and husk refuse and a concern for citizens health as the reason for the ban. (Betel nut use has been linked to mouth and other cancers and the spread of tuberculosis).

However, the betel nut trade is lucrative and large – and an entire underclass of PNG residents derive their total income from ‘buai’ sales.  Tensions are running high with opponents of the ban predicting social unrest, an increase in crime and prostitution (and therefore AIDS) and a break down in law and order.

The images were made at local markets (at least at those still allowed to sell betel nut until a November 1st deadline), at sellers and users communities and homes – and in Port Moresby city centre where ‘Rangers’ now search the streets for elicit ‘buai’.

Am hoping for a publication of the images and a comprehensive story in the next week or so.

Below I’ve posted just two of the images from the set which can be viewed in it’s entirety here at

Images © Brian Cassey 2013



Leave a Comment