Saudi Arabia - Shoura Council to provide advice on Anti-Smoking Law..i

March 2, 2010 - The 20-article Anti-Smoking Law which seeks a ban on cultivation and production of tobacco and tobacco derivatives in the Kingdom is to be looked at by the Shoura (Consultation) Council (primary function is to assess, interpret, and modify the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s system of laws, by-laws, contracts, and international agreements) on Sunday, February 28th paving the way for it to be referred for royal approval.

The law, which would see smoking prohibited in public places, mosque courtyards, places of education and sport, cultural and health institutions; banks, factories, and on land, sea and air transport, would leave tobacco farmers facing fines of up to SR20,000 (5,333.12 USD) and their produce being destroyed on the spot at the expense of the violators themselves.

Other articles in the proposed law would see increased customs tariffs on tobacco and tobacco derivatives in annual cumulative percentages of no more than 300 percent, pending decision from the Cabinet, while tobacco companies would be required to display warnings on cigarette packets, and the import and sale of imitation cigarette sweets would be banned.

The sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 would be illegal under the law, as would their sale from vending machines or their promotion through free or discount samples.

Sources said that the new proposed law covers cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, shisha (hubble-bubble pipes) and any other products with tobacco ingredients.

Euromonitor International, an independent information provider on business, industries and consumers worldwide, says the Saudi tobacco industry has seen continued growth in recent years due to the growth of the economy and an increasing population and rising consumer incomes. Euromonitor International - Tobacco in Saudi Arabia

According to the company, sales of tobacco in the Kingdom remained unchanged following Saudi Arabia’s signing of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004 and the government’s subsequent decision to ban smoking in public places, a law that has not been effectively enforced, and despite a total ban on the local production of tobacco products the Kingdom still hosts multinational companies.

The Ministry of Health in 2003 estimated that the economic losses from a decline in productivity and early deaths caused by tobacco at $83 billion between 1961 and 2004. A study conducted by the Anti-Smoking Charitable Association revealed an "alarming increase" in the number of women who smoke. Women in the eastern provinces and Jeddah top the list. Additionally, 45% of women smokers are younger than 15. Also, a study conducted in 13 schools revealed that the percentage of students in secondary schools who smoke reached 38%. It also revealed that 27% of students began smoking in elementary school. (Saudi government spends billions on anti-smoking campaign with mixed results by Hussein Al Saleh in Riyadh,, 12/22/2009)

Reference: Shoura to discuss law against use of tobacco by Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, © The Saudi Gazette 2010 -, 2/27/2010.

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