DAMMAM — Almost 45 days have passed since the decision banning selling tobacco products was issued but stores in the Eastern Province still insist on displaying these products in conspicuous places in defiance of the ban.
Saleh Al-Abad, director of Naqa Anti-Smoking Foundation, said his organization continuously coordinates with the department of environmental health in the Eastern Province Mayoralty to enforce the decision. There are thousands of stores and enforcing the decision will take some time, he added.
Violators will be issued a final warning and if they repeat the offense, they will be slapped with fines.
The veritable enforcement of the decision starts in Shawwal right after the holy month of Ramadan and then proper action will be taken against violators, said the official. The public can contact the emergency number 940 to report violations. “The decision is a positive step in the right direction. We should combat smoking and prevent its detrimental effects on health,” Al-Abad said.
Some store owners said they displayed tobacco products in conspicuous places because they didn’t know there was a ban in place. Besides, they say, no municipal inspectors visited them and warned them against such action.
Hussein Al-Baloushi, acting spokesman for the Eastern Province Mayoralty, said the decision to ban selling cigarettes was made by the mayor. “All stores have been given a grace period to remove tobacco products from their stores and a fine of SR1000-SR2000 will be imposed on violators after the grace period,” Al-Baloushi said. — SG