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Logistics firms honored for 'quit betel nut' campaigns

2012/04/17 20:43:14

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) The Bureau of Health Promotion honored two of the country's largest truck shipping companies Tuesday for organizing campaigns designed to promote quitting the habit of chewing betel nut among their employees.

Kerry TJ Logistics, which employs more than 3,000 truck drivers, produced a promotional video and played it at its 161 locations throughout the country, which prompted a marked decrease in the number of employees with a betel nut habit.

The percentage of betel nut chewers among its drivers dropped from 24.3 percent in 2007 to 7.9 percent last year, the company said.

Meanwhile, HCT Logistics, which employs 2,500 drivers, launched quit-smoking and quit-betel nut chewing campaigns in 2010, as well as sponsoring the Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation in 2011, a local support group for cancer patients, to publicize the danger of oral cancer.

The company adjusted the working hours for its employees after an internal survey last year found that betel nut chewing was linked to long working hours and a habit of social interaction, it added.

It also offered its branch offices around the country as places in which oral cancer patients and survivors could rest during the annual procession to honor the goddess Matsu in late March.

Betel nut chewing was determined to be carcinogenic in a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2003, according to the bureau.

The construction industry, the truck shipping sector and the fishery industry are the top three sectors in terms of oral cancer victims, the bureau said.

Taiwanese adult males that chew betel nut accounted for 17.2 percent of the male population in 2007. From that year on, the number has been on the decline, dropping to 12.5 percent in 2010 and 11.3 percent in 2011, the bureau said, citing statistics from the Department of Health.

Public awareness of the carcinogenic properties of betel nut also increased from 39.9 percent in 2007 to 52.3 percent in 2011, it added.

Oral cancer was the fifth-deadliest cancer in Taiwan in 2011.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Jamie Wang)
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