Saudi Arabia has banned smoking in public areas after a royal decree took effect last week following a 12-month delay.
Smoking in public areas – including religious, educational, health, sport, cultural, social and charity institutions – will now carry a 200-riyal fine. The ban will also be enforced in the workplace, government offices, factories, banks and all public transportation facilities.
There will be an increased fine for repeat offenders. Any public facilities with dedicated smoking areas must prohibit underage people from entering the area, which must be as secluded as possible, according to Saudi Gazette .
Along with ban on smoking in public, the sale of tobacco will be heavily regulated, with eight new laws covering the market.
Tobacco products may only be sold in closed containers, not in vending machines or inside public transport facilities. Tobacco may not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. Any ideas or inventions related to tobacco will no longer be eligible for patents.
The violation of any of the new regulations can result in a 20,000 riyal fine.
“The money gathered from these fines will be spent on awareness campaigns and charities related to the cause,” a source told Saudi Gazette .
In 2012, the GCC Tobacco Control Committee had plans to implement a smoking ban across all six Gulf states. However, the law was not implemented as interests across the various states and certain companies were greatly affected.
Since then, the emirate of Sharjah has taken the lead in passing anti-smoking laws with a ban enforced on the sale of cigarettes at grocery shops and supermarkets in residential areas. The emirate was also the first to ban smoking in malls and other public areas.
The UAE's National Tobacco Control Committee recently started pushing for a smoking ban in all public places including the removal of designated smoking areas in malls, restaurants, workplaces and other public areas.