Saudi Arabia has ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the 65th country to do so. Dr. Abdullah Mohammed Al-Bedah, who oversees the Ministry of Health’s anti-smoking campaign, confirmed today that the ratification document has been deposited at the United Nations in New York. The treaty, he said, aims at warning young people against smoking and helping adults to stop the habit in order to protect future generations from the dangers of tobacco consumption and exposure to smoke. It is now up to the private as well as the public sector to implement the treaty and make Saudi society tobacco-free.
The treaty was approved in May 2003 by the 192 member states of the World Health Organization, and came into effect in February 2005. Its implementation includes a ban on tobacco advertising and health warnings on cigarette packets. Governments have up to five years to amend regulations in compliance with the treaty.
According to a GCC report, Saudis, both men and women, currently consume 15 billion cigarettes a year; and the Kingdom is the world's fourth largest importer of cigarettes. The report records the heaviest smokers in the western part of the country, with the southern provinces a close second.