Contents and price of vendor assembled paan quid with tobacco in five London localities: a cross-sectional study

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Little is known of paan quid with tobacco (PQT), a hand-made mixture of smokeless tobacco, areca nut, lime and flavourings in a betel leaf, despite its wide use in south Asian communities. This study has explored the price, tobacco types, brands and ingredient weights in vendor assembled PQT in London (England).


This cross-sectional study identified 31 commercial outlets selling PQT. Outlet staff were invited to assemble PQT for purchase. Individual ingredients were identified and weighed using a calibrated scale. Free nicotine availability was assessed in the laboratory. The data were analysed using frequencies, means, t test and Pearson correlations. Significance was set at p<0.05.


73 samples were assembled and purchased. Mean total PQT weight was 10.06 g (95% CI 9.26 to 10.86). Mean price was £1.43 (range £0.50–3.50), which varied by location (p=0.001). The most common smokeless tobacco type was zarda (64.4%). Mean tobacco weight was 0.65 g (95% CI 0.56 to 0.76) and the mean lime weight was 0.58 g (95% CI 0.41 to 0.75). While other ingredients did not vary, tobacco and lime mean weights varied by location (p=0.01). Tobacco and lime weights correlated positively (r=0.427, p=0.01). The pH of the tobacco and lime mix varied between 12.2 and 12.5, indicating 99% free nicotine availability.


Vendor assembled PQT shares similar ingredients but varies by assembly locality, price and tobacco and lime weights. Tobacco and lime weights were balanced to ensure optimal free nicotine availability and dependency potential.

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