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WHO Assistance to Intensify Campaign Against Smoking - Saudi Arabia
Date : 23 January 2011

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will seek the expertise of the World Health Organization (WHO) to intensify its anti-smoking campaign, head of the Health Ministry’s anti-smoking initiative Majid Al-Muneef announced here at the Second Executive Committee Meeting of the National Commission on Tobacco that concluded last week in the capital. The meeting was inaugurated by Ziad Al-Memish, deputy minister of health for preventive medicine, who made the opening remarks at the meeting presided over by Al-Muneef.

Al-Muneef said the ministry has plans to revise the strategy in its anti-smoking campaign.

“The Kingdom will request the WHO to send experts to assist the Kingdom in chalking out a comprehensive plan to implement the campaign which could reduce the number of smokers in the Kingdom.”

He pointed out that the new program would cover schools, use of smokeless tobacco, smoking among children between the ages 13 and 15, university students and smokers who enter wedlock. He said the Kingdom is seriously considering the ban on smokeless tobacco and cooperating with charitable organizations involved in the fight against smoking. The Ministry of Health would also give a set of guidelines to the members of the public and private sector to cooperate with the ministry in its campaign against smoking.

The supervisor said his ministry would seek the assistance of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to prevent smoking in Internet cafes and to review measures that could control passive smoking and the sale of tobacco and tobacco products in coordination with the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, and Municipal and Rural Affairs.

According to the WHO reports, women are a primary target of a tobacco industry that needs to attract new smokers, especially as half of those who currently smoke are expected to die prematurely as a result of their habit. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, and if male breadwinners die early it renders their families financially crippled, causing social problems.

“We have also mentioned the plight of passive smokers who become innocent victims of the tobacco problem,” said Al-Muneef.

In his opening remarks, Al-Memish thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for having consented to implementing the ban on smoking at the airports in the Kingdom.

“This effort has proved successful,” he said.

The Kingdom is also a signatory to the Tobacco Control Treaty launched by the WHO in May 2003.

According to the treaty, signatories should ban or restrict advertising and other marketing efforts by tobacco companies. Health warnings should cover at least 30 percent of the surface of a pack of cigarettes and all materials used to make tobacco products should be listed on the packaging.

The agreement also urges governments to strengthen indoor-air laws, place high taxes on tobacco and act to stop the illegal trade of cigarettes.


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