Thursday, November 5, 2015

$3.5bn worth cigarettes imported by Saudi Arabia in four years

Excessive use of tobacco is one of the thriving issues, gaining momentum all over the world in the recent years. Saudi Arabia falls in the category of the country that is following the same trend. According to local business daily Al-Eqtisadiyah, Saudi Arabia imported 38,500 ton of cigarettes worth about SR3.6 billion ($1 billion) in 2015. The previous record reveals the fact that the Saudi Kingdom had imported cigarettes worth SR2.6 billion in 2012, SR3 billion in 2013 and SR2.5 billion in 2014. Based on the data base the import of cigarettes has paced up to SR13 billion in the past four years. This data base evaluates the progress   of the tobacco market which is accelerating with greater speed in Saudi Arabia.

Production of cigarettes are banned in the Kingdom, therefore all  tobacco  containing items like cigars, pipe tobaccos and cigarettes  are imported from different countries .Cigarette is ranked as 20thnumber  in the list of commodities consumed by the Saudi Kingdom. Cigarettes are imported from 17 countries among which Turkey, Germany and Switzerland exports 91 percent to meet the substantial demand. About 57 percent of the Kingdom’s imported cigarettes, valued at over SR2 billion, come from Germany. Other countries that export tobacco and cigarettes to the  Saudi Kingdom includes South Africa, India, Czech Republic, France, Indonesia, Poland, the Philippines, Egypt, Italy, Pakistan and others.

As reported by the newspaper, “The Kingdom's imports of cigarettes from Germany surpass its imports of cars, barley and other items.” This highlights the fast growing trend of tobacco consumers in the Saudi Kingdom. Despite of numerous efforts by government to control the excessive use of tobacco the import of cigarette is acing with the passage of time .In order to minimize the use of tobacco, Saudi government has taken measures to stop media advertising particularly in TVCS and social media .Moreover many anti –smoking campaigns are being initiated at provincial levels to inform people abouthigh health risks associated with smoking.

As informed by the resources the Saudi Naqaa’ society is planning to hold a meeting with the acting Health Minister Adel Fakeikh to discuss the ways of combatting the wide spread of Tobacco .The main agenda of the meeting is to stop the rising number of smokers in the country while introducing anti-smoking awareness campaigns through seminars and talkshows.

The society chairman, Dr. Mohammed Yamani, describes the situation as “frightful” as more and more people of all ages are falling victim to this injurious disease of smoking. Children especially teenagers are also involve in consuming cigarettes which creates an alarming situation for the state. He added that the society after valuable discussion with other members will propose a constructive action plan in order to make smoking an illegal act in the country. The most important aspect of the proposal will deal with the taxation policy. Increasing the price of cigarette will affect the consumption rate in return improving health issues.

Meanwhile, government authorities are toiling to cease smoking in public Areas. They have also introduced rules prohibiting the use of cigarettes for the under 18 children. On the other side, shopkeepers are warned to be taken to task if found guilty in handling cigarette to children.
Source: Al Arabiya

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