The General Commission for Tourism and Antiquities of Saudi Arabia has declared a taboo on smoking at all tourism facilities. According to the local media report, the ban includes hotels, furnished apartments, travel agencies and all closed area, where tourism activities are organized. Staff employed in the tourism sector has been warned to follow the new regulations, otherwise strict action would be taken against the violators.
The interior ministry circular about preventing smoking in the kingdom includes all government buildings, public establishments, cafés, restaurants, shopping malls and enclosed crowded areas.
Though Saudi Arabia is a leading cigarette market across the globe, recently it has been pushed aggressively to declare ban on smoking in public. Lately, the municipal authorities in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah closed down 242 restaurants and cafes for serving sisha. The violators could also have their licences revoked. The restaurants that are not abiding with the ban are also asked to pay a fine of 600 riyals (Dh587). According to Abu Najm, the action against public smoking would continue and more raids would be carried out against the facilities, who are still serving sishas to their customers, violating the ban. According to the regulations, set up by the interior ministry, disciplinary actions will be taken against the violators of the ban.
Like other cities of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah has warned cafes and restaurants in residential areas to follow the ban and to obey the law. Going by the official figures, Saudi Arabia is home to six million smokers, including around 800,000 teenagers, mainly intermediate and high school students, and 600,000 women.
In August, a leading Saudi football team, imposed heavy financial penalties on a group of players, who were found smoking sisha in a cafeteria in Abu Dhabi. A Saudi judge in summer declared that women who are suffering as a result of their husband’s smoking could file for divorce. In October, the Saudi judges set a new law, which state that parents could now loose their custody case, if they are proven to be a smoker. This step has been taken to protect child from the ill effect of smoking.