Smoking ban aimed to reduce teen smoking

Updated 02 August 2012
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Smoking ban aimed to reduce teen smoking

The Ministry of Interior has ordered provincial governors to enforce a public smoking ban in government buildings and other public places with the aim of cutting smoking among young people and encourage Saudis and expatriates to look after their health better.
Anti-smoking groups praised Interior Minister Prince Ahmed’s directive, but restaurant owners said it would harm business.
The ban also includes shisha served in restaurants and cafes, as well as all ministries, government departments, and public establishments.
The minister said in a statement: “Since we are a Muslim country, it is our duty to serve as a model for adherence to Islamic law, which encourage people to protect their wealth, interests and general health against harmful acts.
“Therefore, it is compulsory to ensure the implementation of the smoking ban in government departments and public sector agencies.
“There should also be a total ban at enclosed public locations including coffee houses, restaurants, commercial establishments, and crowded places.
“The ban includes shisha, which is not at all less dangerous than cigarettes.”
Workers in the private sector hailed the ruling, noting many private businesses have already implemented a smoking ban in their offices.
Ahmed Al-Olyian, a civic engineer who works in a construction company in Jeddah, said: “It is a good decision. However, many companies in the private sector already banned smoking in their buildings.
“We are waiting now for the smoking ban to be applied in public places, especially the restaurants.”
Ali Moaatez, an employee at the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, said he sees the ban as an incentive to help him quit smoking, but he expressed skepticism about its impact on smokers.
He added: “This decision may help me to give up smoking.
“I am working for a governmental body, but I think I will face difficulties adhering to the ban.”
The ban follows a recommendation in November by the National Committee on Fighting Tobacco to take stringent measures to stop selling tobacco products to people under 18.
In June, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs banned the sale of cigarettes to under 18s.
Saudi Arabia ranks fourth in terms of global tobacco imports and consumption.
Saudis smoke annually more than 15 billion cigarettes worth $ 168 million, according to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Prince Ahmed warned retailers not sell tobacco to people under 18 under any circumstances, adding individuals should report any violations to authorities.
Restaurants and café owners say they may face difficulties in enforcing the smoking ban.
They said their profits depend on customers who enjoy shisha.
Abo Manaf, owner of Caza Cafe in Jeddah, said: “The decision was surprising to me.”
“If it is applied soon, customer numbers will drop.
“All my profits depend on shisha and shisha customers represent around 75 percent of my clients.”
Waleed Mosa, an Eritrean employee in the private sector and regular café shisha smoker, said the transition to a smoke and shisha-free environment in cafes would be difficult.
He said: “I cannot imagine restaurants without smoking or cafés without shisha.
“If the decision is applied all cafés will lose their customers.”
Suleiman Al-Sabi, secretary-general of Naqa’a (purity), an anti-smoking charity society, said he hoped the ban would cut the number of teenage smokers by half.
He said teenagers and young adults account for 27 percent of total smokers in the Kingdom.
Municipalities fine shops that sell cigarettes to minors up to SR 500.
The Kingdom is a signatory to the Tobacco Control Treaty launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2003.
According to the treaty, signatories should ban or restrict advertising and other tobacco company marketing efforts.
In addition, health warnings should cover at least 30 percent of the surface of a pack of cigarettes.
All materials used to make tobacco products should be listed on the packaging.
The agreement also urges governments to strengthen indoor smoking laws, to place high taxes on tobacco and develop strategies to stop the sale of black market cigarettes.
Majid Al-Muneef, supervisor general of the anti-smoking department in the Ministry of Health, said the ministry and the Ministry of Education were working together to developing an effective awareness program among students in secondary schools.


Saudi cabinet says disruptions of maritime traffic violate international law

Updated 23 min 16 sec ago
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Saudi cabinet says disruptions of maritime traffic violate international law

DUBAI: The Saudi cabinet said that any disruption of international maritime traffic would be considered a violation of international law, state media reported on Tuesday.
The cabinet said Iran’s seizure of a British tanker in the Gulf was a violation of international law.