Together to enforce the Secondhand Smoking control legislations in SA


Example of activities that pushed the authorities to enforce the smoking ban in Saudi Arabian Airports

The year of 2003 was a remarkable year in the history Public health in Saudi Arabia. At that year, the public health activists celebrated the signing of tobacco control bill by the Prime Minister of King of Saudi Arabia (the king). The passing of these legislations proceeded by extraordinary activities which associated with the development of this policy within the Consultation Council. It took three years in the Minister Council to approve the Consultation Council anti-tobacco recommendation, which was submitted in 2000.

As a matter of fact, this legislation addressed the importance of fighting the secondhand smoking in two articles 7 and 14. These articles impose ban of smoking in public indoors and outdoors areas and facilities (article 7) . Furthermore, it gives the authorities the power of penalization of violators with 200 Saudi riyals (50 USD), article 14.

ban smoking at Saudi Airports

Unfortunately, over the last eleven years the public have not noticed any changed in smoke ban at public areas. Carelessly, the smokers still poison the air in public areas; at governmental offices, hospitals, public transport, restaurants, public parks, recreation centers, around schools and so on.  Despite these legislations, the unchanged in this tragic situation raises many questions and doubts like:  where is the regulations?, do we need 11 years to develop tobacco control regulations?, why this policy is not being enforced?, who are the people involved with frizzing the development of regulation and implementing the policy?, is there a lobby in the Kingdom supports the continuation of smoking? as suggested by Shura Council member, Mohamed Alqoihs.

What we should do?

We should know, as public health activist in Saudi Arabia, that  there is a need of a collaboration between the stakeholders to push these legislation to be implemented and be active. One of the effective strategies is to involve the public and the community to develop a changing pressure at the higher level in each organization and offices. These communities and payers can include; Medical and health care student societies, religious sectors, Community Volunteer groups, human rights, parents and non-smokers and many others. Cigarette smoke ban at Saudi Airports and the development of King Saudi Uni. KSU anti-tobacco charter are two excellent experiences of the impact of  public and community movements and pressure on enforcing the smoke ban law in public areas. The public movement in media, in these examples,  pushed the authority at each organization to practice its police power in light of anti-tobacco legislation, even though the national regulation has not been developed.

I hope The Saudi Anti-tobacco regulation sees the light soon !


5 Responses to “Together to enforce the Secondhand Smoking control legislations in SA”

  1. sbfphc Says:

    In the US as the prevalence of smoking reduces and scientific data mount about effects of smoking on smokers and non-smokers, more and more effort is put into protecting everyone – hence the drive against second-hand smoke. But what is going on in less developed countries.

    Africa plays an interesting role in the tobacco equation. Some countries actually grow a lot of tobacco – Zimbabwe, Malawi – and some have a long standing smoking culture – Egypt. Generally though Africa represents only about 4% of the world’s smokers according to VOA News [].

    At the same time the BBC reported that “African countries are experiencing the highest increase in the rate of tobacco use amongst developing countries” []. Some countries have banned smoking, but enforcement is a problem.

    It is often thought that economic factors may inhibit smoking, but in Zimbabwe with its current political and economic crises “Twenty-one percent of men in Zimbabwe smoke cigarettes” as reported by VOA. When the local economy depends on tobacco, governments may be loathe to control smoking. Few countries have active anti-smoking lobbying groups.

    Some awareness exists. VOA found one bus driver who said he also tries in vain not to breathe in second-hand smoke from the cigarettes of his co-workers. Education and advocacy are sorely needed.

  2. jmspur Says:

    Until the negative side effects of side stream smoke were recognized there was little effort put on banning smoking in public areas, such as office buildings, restaurants, and even hospitals. Fortunately, in the US the trend is moving towards banning smoking in all public places.

    Despite many locations banning indoor smoking, a significant public health risk still exists. According to Kaufman, et al., “an unintended consequence of indoor smoking restrictions is the relocation of smoking to building entrances,” such that these exiled smokers expose non-smokers as they enter the building, as well as, the potential for second hand smoke to enter the building and expose the occupants to these negative effects (Kaufman, 2011). Kaufman, et al., found that any level of smoking increased the particulate matter in the air, as compared to the baseline, but that there was a significant and positive association with increasing numbers of lit cigarettes (Kaufman, 2011).

    Extending the smoke free zones to include areas immediately surrounding buildings is a way to further discourage employees and patrons from smoking. Fichtenberg and Glantz found that smoke-free workplaces were “associated with reductions in prevalence of smoking” and “fewer cigarettes smoked per day per continuing smoker” (Fichtenberg, 2002). Additionally, they found that to achieve a similar reduction through taxation alone would require a tax four times higher than current rates, concluding that smoke-free workplaces are protective for both smokers and non-smokers (Fichtenberg, 2002).

    Clearly, a multi-pronged approach is required to rid the world of tobacco use and its negative health effects. It appears that Saudi Arabia is utilizing many of these methods.

    Fichtenberg, C., & Glantz, S. (2002). Effect of Smoke-free Workplaces on Smoking Behaviour: Systematic Review. British Medical Journal, 325(7357):188.

    Kaufman, P., Zhang, B., Bondy, S., Klepeis, N., & Ferrence, R. (2011). Not Just ‘A Few Wisps’: Real-time Measurement of Tobacco Smoke at Entrances to Office Buildings. Tobacco Control, 20(3):212-218.

    • drkhoja Says:


      1975, a 20 years after the establishment of the 3rd Saudi kingdom, the Royal command obligates the tobacco suppliers to print an Arabic warning on each Cigarette packs or tobacco box (smoking is harmful to health).

      In 1983, the Royal Decree stated the banning tobacco product advertisement in any form of Saudi media and to print a health warning in the imported foreigner media and publication.

      In the same year (1983), the smoking prohibited in all the Governmental and public offices (Ministries’ offices, Governmental agencies , Public institutions and their branches and all its subordinate units). Also, to install a banners “smoking is prohibited” and strictly follow-up the implementation. A follow-up Royal Decree, in reference to the prior order and the noticed laxity in the implementation it emphasis on the importance of compliance to that order.


      Really In SA, what is missing is accountability and enforcing the law.
      There are tons of papers full of policies !

  3. kaallen428 Says:

    I enjoyed your post on Saudi Arabia. It’s a part of the world that is often ignored in terms of health concerns. I actually specialize in public health issues within the Middle East and am often dismayed by how the global health field tends to focus on “easy to work in” ME countries like Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. 90% of the ME is left out of such discussions.
    That said, I do have a question regarding your blog post. How effective is civil society at effecting change in Saudi Arabia? Do you have any suggestions as to how the public can be persuaded to advocate for the application of this law? Have any public health campaigns been waged against smoking? It seems that the larger issue is that the society as a whole in KSA does not see smoking as a health threat…. Any thoughts on this?

    • drkhoja Says:

      Thank you. I Think this part is not ignored rather, we are not involved and engaged in PH issues. (Egypt >4X Saudi).

      – I do not have evidence regarding the effect of civil society at PH level change; however, these days…I feel it is moving slowly toward the right way. sure, as you are specialize in public health issues within the Middle East, you have noticed many changes in the people behavior.

      – Regarding the smoking, most of the Saudi know and see tobacco as health threat even they belief that it is something religiosity and culturally not accepted, even smokers. But, this knowledge and norm does not moved to next step.

      – There are many public health campaigns that addressed the secondhand smoking but there is nothing like enforcement of law in our culture. In general, smoker will not change the behavior and respects others unless there is strong motivation (-ve or +ve ) (this was clear with traffic and speed camera). I am sure that SA was one of the first countries that ban of smoking at offices and public area law, but on papers!.

      – in my opinion, these campaigns would be more effective if it focused on law enforcement, questioning the authority and talk about the SA globe gesture and image, this what assure the fats implementation of the law. that what happens with banning smocking at Saudi airports.

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