Commerce Minister Tawfik Al-Rabiah refuted rumors via Twitter that there would be a hike in tobacco prices in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom will, however, increase the specifications of tobacco products to minimize its harmful effects on smokers, the minister said on Saturday.
The Kingdom joined the anti-tobacco agreement in May 2005.
Saudi Arabia ranks fourth in the world for tobacco imports and consumption. More than 15 billion cigarettes, worth $168 million, are smoked by Saudis each year, according to figures released by the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Health Ministers Council.
The minister stressed that decisions on price increases are taken by the GCC Finance Ministers Council.
“The Kingdom has not given any signal for the increase in the price of tobacco products,” the minister added.
The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will launch a Kingdom-wide survey on adult smokers by September, according to Ali Alwadey, director-general of the ministry’s tobacco control program.
The director-general said that the study will be conducted among 8,000 families living in different parts of the Kingdom.
“The survey will help authorities plan out future programs on combating smoking and will cover all age groups and people from all walks of life,” he said. He also said the ministry has gotten approval to conduct the survey.
Alwadey said that the study will be carried out over a period of eight months and that the report will be available for decision-makers and planners soon after it is presented to the Ministry of Health.
The Health Ministry has launched a mobile service to assist smokers in kicking the habit.
“We have deployed 10 mobile units that will visit all parts of the Kingdom in the next 12 months to assist smokers to unlearn their habit,” he noted.
He said the mobile service would visit malls, parks and other public places most frequented by smokers to tell them about the hazards of the habit and how to give it up.
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