Has anyone noticed that very few people chew betel anymore? The habit was ubiquitous amongst the working classes: masons, plumbers, drivers, labourers and domestic servants would been seen chewing and spewing long streams of bright red sputum.
One had to be careful walking around public markets to avoid stepping in spittle or being inadvertently hit by a passing stream.
The habit of smoking beedis, a cheap type of cigarette also seems to be near extinct.
There was a public campaign to stop the chewing of betel (it causes cancer), so perhaps that has worked, or it may simply have become unfashionable. People have become richer so they no longer want to have a habit that is associated with the lower classes? The same fate may have befallen the beedi, which despite being cheaper than cigarettes is now very rarely seen.
Indeed given the price of blasted things, I sometimes wonder how anyone can afford to smoke.
Changes in taste have claimed other victims, notably the pipe. I hate smoking but if one must smoke, the pipe is the way to go, the fragrance of a pipe is pleasant, (that from a hookah pipe, most deliciously so) and the whole process has a certain old world charm about it.
The cigar, the other form of tobacco that has a certain 'cachet' does not seem to have been affected by changes in taste, it may in fact have benefited, although I am not quite certain of this.