This is a sticky subject.
In a bid to manage expectorations in the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Beijing is renewing efforts to curb spitting.
The Asian Wall Street Journal reports that offenders can be fined as much as fifty yuan (approx. P350 or a day’s wages for a Filipino worker) if caught spewing in public. The latest initiative targets a habit that has been long ingrained in the city. Beijing’s dry desert air and high level of pollution can trigger a rapid buildup of stringy phlegm, which is almost as swiftly deposited in sidewaiks, drains and just about anywhere, according to the AWSJ.
This is partly because traditional Chinese medical philosophy – centered along the ideas of balancing “hot” and “cool” elements in the body — encourages expectoration as a healthy habit, since it theoretically removes a “heaty” element from the body. Beijing authorities do not go as far as far as recommending people swallow, not spit. Instead, they recommend discreet deposits on tissues or scraps of paper — instead of the ground or someone’s shoe.
This is a good thing, specially in this age of SARS and other virulent airborne diseases. The Philippines could benefit from a similar move, although from my own personal observation, spitting is less a problem than it used to be in years past. The practice of chewing tobacco or betel nut has waned, except in certain areas. However, the sticky reddish-brown by-product of such a habit is indeed unsightly and potentially disease-carrying.
If only it were as easy to regulate the time-honored Filipino tradition of mud-slinging.