Jul 31 2012

Ban on smoking in public places

Published by at 11:45 am under Smoking ban

Saudi Arabia has banned smoking in government offices and most public places, including restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and shopping centers.

The ban includes smoking water pipe, or shishas, and prohibits the sale of tobacco to children under the age of 18 years.

Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz, Interior Minister has ordered that the smoking ban be implemented as of Monday. He cited as saying that Islam encourages the preservation of public health.

Saudi Arabia has banned smoking in their airports last year.

Earlier this month, Al-Khobar Municipality has launched a campaign to ban smoking in restaurants. Restaurants that allow customers to smoke face SR2, 000 fines. The municipality spokesman said the ban is applied for the first time in the region and aims to protect public health.
There have been suggestions and raise the price of cigarettes in the pack SR9 restrict smoking in the Kingdom. But others said the increase only provide financial benefits to the tobacco companies-importers.

Doctors urge government to follow other countries imposes taxes on the sale of cigarettes, and use these taxes to finance a broad anti-smoking campaign.

At a meeting held this year in Saudi Arabia, the health ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council proposed a 50 percent tax on cigarettes to control the consumption and they presented it to the finance ministers for approval. No date of sale or the decision was announced. Minister of Health and Director of the National Committee for Tobacco Control, Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeah headed the third meeting of the National Committee for Tobacco Control. The main recommendations agreed upon at the meeting were to make a request to the Cabinet to issue a total ban on smoking in public places.

Saudi Statistics say the country is the fourth-largest importer of tobacco products and that six million of Saudi Arabia will spend nearly SR30 million dollars a day on cigarettes.

However, the smoking ban does not become a good news for some of Saudi Arabia, who believe that it is their fundamental right to smoke wherever they want.

“I do not see any harm in smoking in public places, especially in restaurants, as they already have a non-smoking section for those who do not smoke,” said Abdullah Khamis, 31-year-old worker.

Khamis also said that he had no objection to the ban in places such as shopping malls and supermarkets and in restaurants and cafes, “Smoking is of great importance.”

“It could be a positive step for the younger generation to start taking the rules and have a healthy lifestyle, as in Europe. When we go to Europe, we accept their laws, but to be honest, it’s annoying to keep going outside for a cigarette, “he added.

Kamal al-Nuaimi, a 32-year-old worker from Dammam, has always been against the smoking ban. “Frankly, I’ve never been in Europe, but I’ve heard from friends that smoking is prohibited in public places, so it’s a big disadvantage for me,” he said.

Reema Ibraheemi, 34-year-old mother of two, said that if they ban shisha and cigarettes in restaurants, she prefers to stay home and smoke with their friends.

Ibraheemi, however, believes that this is a good step for the young generation, do not smoke, and to respect others. “When I go to the cafe, I see girls who are 16 years of age to smoke hookah with your friends. Ban could help set an age limit on smoking and produce a healthy future generation,” she said.

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