Saudi Arabia - anti-smoking regulations approved in August 2003 not yet implemented..

October 27, 2009 - JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: New anti-smoking regulations that were approved by the Cabinet in August 2003 have not yet been implemented and there is no date fixed to do so, said Dr. Majid Al-Munif, head of the Anti-Smoking Program at the Ministry of Health.

"The regulations are yet to be studied and no specified time has been fixed to implement them," said Al-Munif. He added that specialists from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Rural Affairs are studying the new rules. "Officials from all government bodies are eager that the system gets implemented as soon as possible," he said, adding that other Middle East countries such as Syria, Iran and Jordan have already implemented similar systems banning smoking in public.

Asked whether the delay was due to objections, he said, "The delay and corrections to the rules do not necessarily mean that there are objections. Correcting the rules is unimportant; implementing is more important."

Sulaiman Al-Sabbi, secretary-general of the Anti-Smoking Society in Riyadh, blamed government departments on the delay of the set of rules, which he described as important since they also ban minors from buying cigarettes.

The new system outlines specific punishments for the use and distribution of cigarettes in the Kingdom. Fines range from SR200 to SR20,000.

According to article 13 of the new regulations, people or companies who plant or produce tobacco illegally in the Kingdom can be fined SR20,000. People who smoke in public can face fines of SR200.

Saudi Arabia did have an anti-smoking campaign that targets young grooms. The catchy slogan, “Kicking the habit is on you, and marriage is on us,” is meant to entice young grooms to give up smoking by offering an attractive incentive. And, indeed, hundreds have expressed interest in the first anti-smoking drive of its kind in the kingdom, with one man saying he is ready to take up smoking just to be eligible for the grand prize — an all-expenses-paid wedding. At this time about one quarter of Saudi Arabia’s 27.6 million residents smoked.(Saudi anti-smoking campaign stirs controversy with promise to help men with wedding expenses, Donna Abu-nasr, Breaking News 24/7, 6/29/2009)

Reference: Anti-smoking regulations fail to see the light of day by Fatima Sidiya, Zawya (Middle East business and finance news), 10/25/2009.

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