Underage tobacco ban going up in smoke?

Updated 19 February 2013
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Underage tobacco ban going up in smoke?

Youngsters are still buying cigarettes and related products at local shops, even though the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs prohibited the sale of tobacco products to anyone below 18 in June last year.
“There are no inspectors or anyone monitoring the sale of tobacco when customers of any age come in to purchase any item. We are here to make a profit, so of course we sell them whatever they want,” said Mohammed Hakeem, an Indian shopkeeper in a convenience store in Al-Salamah district.
He added that in the beginning they tried to enforce the ban and abide by anti-tobacco laws, but found it too difficult to keep asking for ID cards to verify the age of customers.
“We met with abusive remarks and even threats from teenagers who wanted to purchase cigarettes. As you can see it was just easier to give them what they wanted,” he concluded.
Ameer Khan, a Pakistani shopkeeper in Faisaliah district, said: “It is always this way with new laws and bans. First, there are warnings and talk of penalties. But because there is no one enforcing these regulations, they are never effective.”
However, Majid Al-Muneef, general supervisor of the Tobacco Control Program at the Ministry of Health and secretary of the Anti-Tobacco National Committee denied the lack of enforcement of the underage tobacco ban.
“This is completely inaccurate. We have been employing investigation teams that have been touring the city as part of our efforts to fight the sale of tobacco to the youth and to enforce anti-smoking ban in public places. We have been working with the Ministry of Education and municipality officials in developing awareness campaigns to inform everyone concerning the dangers of smoking,” Al-Muneef said.
He added that the penalty still stands at SR 500 for any violation of the ban. Saudi Arabia currently ranks fourth in terms of global tobacco imports and consumption, smoking 15 billion cigarettes annually worth SR 592.5 million ($ 158 million), according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). The Kingdom has been a signatory of the WHO’s Tobacco Control Treaty since May 2003.


FaceOf: Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi, president of the General Authority for Statistics 

Updated 22 August 2018
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FaceOf: Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi, president of the General Authority for Statistics 

Fahad bin Sulaiman Altekhaifi has been the president of the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) since his appointment to the post in May 2016.

On Monday GASTAT announced this year’s Hajj statistics, revealing detailed information on the number of pilgrims (which amounted to 2,371,675) performing Hajj this year, their genders, nationalities and whether they arrived through air, land or seaports.

The president conveyed his gratitude to all government and security entities that helped the authority to collect data, and praised the 450 GASTAT researchers who worked to compile the information and deliver it to the public.

He said that the collected data would help facilitate better experiences and easier pilgrimages for future programs, and better services for pilgrims — from social to health, and transportation to security and food.

Altekhaifi received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from King Saud University in 1992, a master’s degree in statistics from Colorado State University in 1996, and his applied statistics and research methodology Ph.D. from the University of Northern Colorado in 2001.

He worked as a manager of a financial program at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh from 1993 to 2005. For two years after that, he was a project director at the EIS department in Zuhair Fayez Partnership Consultants.

In 2007, Altekhaifi was appointed a manager of the research department at the Capital Market Authority, before becoming assistant deputy minister for development in November 2011. 

In June 2015, he was the director general of the Central Department of Statistics and Information. He served as the acting president of GASTAT in February 2016, before being appointed president on May 2016.