Saudi Arabia enforces smoking ban in public places

The Jeddah Municipality has begun implementing a smoking ban in public areas, with inspectors enforcing the ban.

The municipality can fine violators of the ban up to SR5,000 and even close down their enterprises after repeat offenses, in accordance with capabilities given by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

Cigarette Burning

Man taking a cigarette

Adel Batati, assistant secretary of divisional municipalities and stores, said the ban includes all restaurants, cafes, hotels and public areas as element of a campaign to strengthen public health.

The municipality, he said, will deliver brochures warning all shops and restaurants that inspectors will begin examining for any violations. In July, Saudi Arabia restricted smoking in government offices and most public areas including restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets and shopping malls.

The ban as well includes shisha and forbids the sale of tobacco to those under 18.

Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Interior, purchased the public ban on smoking to be applied in July but the municipality only began taking action from the starting of this week.

Fadi Baidoon, a supervisor at Balsamico cafe in Tahliya Street, said municipality inspectors lately visited the cafe with an official letter saying that from Saturday they will begin checking out the cafes and restaurants to be sure the ban on serving shisha was strictly applied.

Baidoon said that half of the revenue of the business is from hooka. Permitting smoking outside will help business, he said.

Fadi Harab, public relations manager at B-Concept, a company that has a chain of restaurants in the city, said that they have already ended serving hookah indoors but they are not yet clear on whether they can keep serving it outside.

“The smoking ban will certainly have a negative effect on business. They can have smoking and non-smoking places to resolve this problem. People will stop going to cafes if they can’t smoke,” he said.

Another Jeddah cafe official said that they have already banned indoors and outdoors smoking since Monday.

“We got information from the municipality and we tell our clients seeking reservations that we don’t serve hookah or permit smoking of any kind,” he said.

Even though a smoking ban would possibly minimize the number of smokers in Jeddah, some people believe that it is a matter of personal choice, particularly as there are not many leisure outlets in the country. Lamees Attiah, who works in Jeddah, said the decision is unjust to smoking people.


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