(MENAFN - Arab News) At least 5,000 Saudi men and women became nonsmokers in 2013, thanks to rehabilitation programs across the country, an official said on Monday.
Throughout 2013, the Makkah Kafa Society, tasked with raising awareness against smoking and using drugs in the region, reached over 800,000 people, Abdullah Al-Othaim, the organization's chairman, told the SPA.
He said people who kicked the habit and became more aware of the dangers of narcotics, doubled over the past few years. "The Kafa society's activities included various programs targeting youth gatherings and associations, children's theaters, exhibitions, and mobile clinics that toured the Makkah region," Al-Othaim said.
"Makkah is the holiest city on earth and must be smoke-free," he said. The Kafa Society has branches in Jeddah, Al-Leeth and Qunfudah.
On its Twitter account, @kafa_sa, the society warned parents to monitor their children carefully during exam times because they could fall prey to peer pressure to use cigarette and drugs.
"It is a fact that smoking kills. It takes a serious and honest effort to quit," the society said. This first step starts by contacting the society at 012-632-1111, 0556321111, or toll-free on 920007848.
In 2012, the government introduced an indoor ban on shisha and cigarette smoking at cafs and restaurants across the country. By the start of the new year, the Jeddah Municipality closed down eight indoor cafes for serving shisha.
This move raised the price of shisha by 40 percent at cafs and restaurants with designated smoking areas.
In a recent media report, Hussain Al-Jazairi, a former Saudi health minister from 1975 to 1983, said that there are around 2 million Saudi smokers spending SR38 million on tobacco products every day. This ranks Saudi Arabia fourth worldwide in tobacco consumption.