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Sun 26 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Saudi plans to ban smoking

A new law to combat smoking in restaurants in Saudi Arabia has been drafted and is awaiting Cabinet approval.

A new law to combat smoking in restaurants in Saudi Arabia has been drafted and is awaiting Cabinet approval.

Under the proposals, smoking would be banned in public places such as cafés, restaurants, food manufacturing plants and marketplaces.

Those caught breaking the new laws would be fined SR 200 (US $53) according to secretary general of the Charitable Society to Combat Smoking, Suleiman Al-Sabi.

He went on to urge those affected by smokers at work and in public places to take legal action against them, demanding compensation.

The law, which is expected to come in to effect in 2009, is significant as Saudi Arabia tops the list of tobacco importers worldwide, according to the society's 2007 statistics.

Cigarette smoking had so far caused the deaths of 13,929 people in Saudi Arabia this year alone, Al-Sabi claimed.

In light of the new legislation, dairy product and fruit juice producer Al Rabie Saudi Foods is promoting its products as aids for quitting smoking, claiming that "a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and caffeine-free beverages such as water and fruit juice, is a significant catalyst in reducing the urge to smoke".

"Our new campaign aims to reveal and explain the dangers of smoking and how to overcome this deadly habit," explained general manager Monther Al Harthi.

He said that Al Rabie was committed to educating its employees and the local community about the ways in which proper nutrition could help smokers to quit, adding that doctors and researchers had long advocated the intake of certain healthy foods and beverages to help those wishing to stop smoking.

The Saudi-based company recently received a delegation from the Saudi Smoking Control Charitable Society to discuss and raise awareness of the harmful effects of smoking.

"We aim to provide products that complement the highest standards of personal health and safety and our support for [the Smoking Control Charitable Society] affirms this mission," said Al Harthi.

"We hope that our contribution to the propagation of programmes against smoking sends a positive message to the community," he concluded.

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