Saudi Arabia’s interior minister has placed a ban on the sale of cigarettes to people who are less than 18 years old and ordered authorities throughout the kingdom to take necessary procedures against any violations.
Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz also banned smoking inside government facilities and closed commercial areas, including restaurants and cafes, citing cigarettes’ negative effects on the public health.
“Because we are a Muslim state, it is imperative upon us to be a virtuous example for other states in respecting the Shariah, which calls for preserving people’s assets and the public health,” Prince Ahmed said in a statement
Despite its relatively small population of 25 million people, Saudi Arabia is the 23d largest consumer of cigarettes in the world, according to report by the Saudi-based Arab News.
Because of its high rate of smoking, the Kingdom launched in the recent years several campaigns against cigarettes. For instance the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah do not allow smoking.
The Saudi government also filed a lawsuit against major tobacco companies requesting that they pay for the medical expenses of the patients suffering from smoking-related diseases, the Arab News reported.