Saudi Arabia became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on August 7, 2005.
Smoke Free Places
The law prohibits smoking in some indoor workplaces and public places including government, education, health, and cultural facilities and prohibits smoking in all means of public transport. Smoking is allowed in designated smoking rooms in bars, nightclubs, stadiums, casinos, and shops.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
The law prohibits most advertising and promotion of tobacco but permits internet tobacco sales. Although financial or other sponsorship by the tobacco industry is not prohibited, publicity of the sponsorship of events is prohibited.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Smoked tobacco products must carry a combined text and picture warning that occupies no less than 65 percent of the front and back of the package. In addition, plain packaging is required as of January 1, 2020. It appears as though smokeless tobacco products are still subject to the health warning requirements under GSO 246/2011, which requires combined text and picture health warnings on 50 percent of the front and back of the package. Misleading packaging and labeling, which could include terms such as “light” and “low tar,” is prohibited.
The retail sale of e-cigarettes is allowed. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited where smoking is prohibited. There are no restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarettes. Health warnings are required on the front and back sides covering 65 percent of the surface of the packaging. The nicotine content of e-cigarettes and refill containers must not exceed 20 mg/ml. The law bans specific ingredients, including but not limited to certain flavors, vitamins and other ingredients that create the impression of health benefits, caffeine, additives having coloring properties, and additives that contribute to toxicity.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
The Royal Decree No. 56, Anti-Smoking Law is the primary legislation governing smoke free places; advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and packaging and labeling. The regulation titled the Circular to Municipalities on Controls on Marketing and Promotion of Tobacco Products was issued in order to explicitly prohibit tobacco advertising at the point of sale. The Executive Regulations were issued in 2017 under the Anti-Smoking Law and contain detailed requirements governing smoke free places; advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and packaging and labeling. Decision of the Minister of Health No. 1853515 contains the amended Executive Regulation of the Tobacco Control Law.
In 2018, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) issued SFDA.FD 60:2018 – the Standard on Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products, which requires the plain packaging of cigarettes, cigars, hand rolling tobacco, and tobacco molasses (waterpipe tobacco) as of January 1, 2020. SFDA.FD 60:2018 also requires larger combined health warnings. It appears as though the health warning requirements under GSO (GCC Standardization Organization) Technical Regulation 246/2011 on Labeling of Tobacco Product Packages are still in effect for smokeless tobacco products. The Executive Regulations of the Anti-Smoking Law adopted the Gulf Technical Regulation 246/2011 on Labeling of Tobacco Product Packages and makes it binding in Saudi Arabia.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff. No in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts reviewed our analysis.
Policy Fact Sheets
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