Saudi’s Ministry of Health has reportedly submitted a draft law to ban smoking in public areas – more than a year after it said the ban was set to be enforced.
The law, which also calls for fines, has been submitted to the Council of Ministers for a final approval and would apply, the Saudi Gazette reported.
Dr Ali Al Wada'ei, the head of the department to combat smoking at the Ministry of Health, said the law would be enforced as soon as it was approved by the Council of Ministers.
Last August local media reported that Saudi said it would begin to enforce a royal decree to ban smoking in public places across the Gulf kingdom immediately.
Under the official order, smoking, including shisha, was to be banned in all government facilities and most commercial areas, including restaurants, supermarkets, and shopping malls. The order also prohibited the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 18.
Al Wada'ei said there were currently some public places that applied a smoking fine, but many places did not.
He said he believed that increasing tobacco product prices by 100 percent has not achieved the desired result of reducing smoking.
He said: “There should be even more price hikes to encourage more smokers to quit, especially youngsters and low income people.
“The ministry has a three pronged approach to combating smoking. It is conducting educational and awareness campaigns, enacting legislation and providing services to help smokers quit.”
A ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into effect in Lebanon last year, prompting sit-in protests by some restaurant and café owners at the time.
An indoor ban on smoking in mall cafés and restaurants across Abu Dhabi, put into force last year, also resulted in confusion with some premises fined and others continued to allow their customers to smoke without any warnings.
Smoking has been banned in Dubai malls for almost a decade.