Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

Updated 01 June 2013
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Government slammed for not raising tax on cigarettes

The anti-smoking society, Niqaa, is blaming the Ministry of Finance for the spread of smoking in the country because of its continued refusal to increase taxes on the import of tobacco. The ministry argues that if it did so smuggling will increase.
The issue was highlighted yesterday on the World Anti-Smoking Day under the slogan "No to ads, promotion and patronage of tobacco."
“The issue of price is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry, and it always comes up with the excuse that raising the price will encourage smuggling,” Society President Mohammad Jaber Alyamani said.
“This is because smokers will not buy if it costs up to SR 40 a packet. We have raised this issue with the ministry but it still has reservation, and says this will increase smuggling.”
Mohammad Al-Quhiess, former Shoura Council member, said in interviews that there is a strong tobacco lobby in the Kingdom.
He added that the resolve to fight spread of tobacco has been made by the Shuora Council and will be implemented soon.
He said the price of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia is the lowest in the world and taxes on tobacco are very low, something which encourages youngsters and adults to start and continue smoking. In Europe and South America the price of a packet of cigarettes can be as high as SR 40 but in Saudi Arabia, its just SR 5.
He said that tobacco companies in Saudi Arabia have become audacious, distributing cigarettes on the World Anti-Smoking Day on the Al Hamara Beach in Jeddah. He stressed that everybody has to take a strong and serious stand against smoking in Saudi Arabia, especially among young people. Statistics show that there are 6 million smokers in the kingdom, of which 600,000 are women.
“The percentage of smokers in boys schools in the Kingdom is more than 12 percent, whereas the percentage the world over is decreasing.
“The issue of financial support is a major hindrance facing the society, coupled with the lack of effective laws to stop smoking in public places such as airports, where one can find officers smoking under the 'no smoking' signs.”
He said the Health Ministry is playing its role and has an anti-smoking campaign and will sign an agreement with the society to increase efforts against smoking.


Saudi capsule hotels and fire extinguishing balls employed for serving pilgrims during Hajj season

Updated 10 min 38 sec ago
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Saudi capsule hotels and fire extinguishing balls employed for serving pilgrims during Hajj season

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Hadiyah Association has employed global experiences and modern technology to serve pilgrims during this year’s Hajj season by introducing the “capsule hotel” and the “fire extinguishing ball.”
Made of plastic and fiberglass, each capsule hotel room is 220-cm-long, 120-cm-wide, and 120-cm-high and is supported by a metal structure. The walls are made of fireproof environment-friendly ABS, and the doors have magnetic locks that open automatically in case of power failure.
Every capsule provides good ventilation that operate at a rate of 30 cubic meters per hour and has two fans, each of which operates at three different speeds.
The capsules are also equipped with all the necessities for ending the state of Ihram, including showers, washing basins and ironing clothes, in addition to an electric control unit, safety and comfort tools, a smoke detector, a small fire extinguisher, an electronic locker for keeping personal belongings, a digital alarm clock that also shows the temperature inside the capsule, different lighting options with special lights for reading, a television, and an ionic air purifier that produces high negative ions to eliminate germs and dust.
The capsules are opened using a magnetic card programmed for each room with a pre-determined period of use.
Another invention adopted by Hadiyah Association is the fire extinguishing ball, a device that works in a matter of three-five seconds from the instant it touches flames. The ball blasts and disperses a white cloud of dried extinguishing chemicals over an area of four cubic meters to isolate the burning substance from oxygen.
The ball also releases the sound of a 138-decibel-explosion to alert nearby people and does not pose harm to humans or the environment.
It is also lightweight (1.5 kg) and convenient for women, children, and the elderly to use.