Mar. 10, 2010

Saudi Arabia mulls anti-smoking law

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia is considering an anti-smoking law that will ban the cultivation of tobacco, penalise people for smoking in public areas and increase duties on cigarette imports, Arab News reported on Tuesday.

The Shoura Council, an appointed consultative body, discussed a draft law on Monday, the newspaper said.

The Saudi move follows a recent decision by the UAE government to ban smoking in most public areas, part of legislation aimed at stemming the rising number of smokers in the Gulf state.

The UAE anti-smoking legislation, whose implementation has been delayed as officials work on the details, also requires all tobacco products carry health warnings, bans their advertisement and makes selling products to anyone under 18 illegal.

Smokers in Saudi Arabia spend some $2.13 billion on cigarettes every year and number around six million people or a quarter of its population.