Saudi Arabia bans smoking in most public places

The ban includes smoking of water-pipes, or shishas, and prohibits selling tobacco to those under the age of 18.

Updated: Jul 30, 2012, 18:30 PM IST

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has banned smoking in government offices and most public places, including restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets and shopping malls.

The ban includes smoking of water-pipes, or shishas, and prohibits selling tobacco to those under the age of 18.

The official SPA news agency says Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz has ordered that a royal ban on smoking be implemented as of today. He is cited as saying that Islam urges the preservation of public health.

The ban is a significant step-up in the kingdom`s anti-smoking campaign. Saudi Arabia banned smoking in its airports last year.

Saudi statistics say the country is the world`s fourth largest importer of tobacco and that six million Saudis spend about 30 million Saudi riyals (about USD 8 million) a day on cigarettes.

PTI