A ban on the sale of betel nut has come into force in Port Moresby but locals are defying the prohibition saying it will affect business.

The ban is part of a scheme to try to clean up Papua New Guinea's capital by stopping street stains caused from the spitting of red-coloured juice produced from chewing the nut, and littering of betel nut husks.

Chewing betel nut is a tradition in PNG, with thousands depending on the betel nut trade for income.

Locals defied the first day of the ban with the small green nuts on sale today at stalls in the city's Hohola market.

Stall holder Ivara Oki told the ABC she won't stop selling buai, as the locals call it.

"That's our living. That's where we get money," she said.

Despite the opposition to the prohibition, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said betel nut chewing was a filthy, unhealthy habit with the ban to remain in place.

Mr Parkop said there will be a one-month grace period before people caught importing and selling betel nuts will be fined.

"The ban will go ahead but we will not start implementing the penalties yet," he said.

"We will start enforcing the no spitting and littering in public places aspect of the law as soon as possible."

Mr Parkop said there would be a long-term plan for the control and trading of betel nut, "including the conditions by which we may consider allowing trading to be re-introduced into the city".

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