| Updated at: 1031 PST, Tuesday, October 19, 2010|
JEDDAH: A ban on smoking inside all Saudi airports and a SR200 fine for violators were approved by Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation and chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
Abdullah Al-Rahimi, president of GACA, said the new rule has been prepared by GACA in cooperation with other relevant bodies, and that the aim is to create a healthy, clean and smoke-free environment at airports across the Kingdom.
Al-Rahimi said airports have been asked to implement the ban starting Dul Hijjah 1 (Nov. 7). He also called on airport staff and passengers to stop smoking inside airports and to cooperate with airport security in respecting the ban.
Abdul Hameed Abalary, director of the Central Department for Aviation Security, said the new regulation consists of 11 articles, and that GACA will stringently enforce it.
Special smoking areas will be designated inside the Kingdom’s airports for smokers. Airport employees who smoke will be fined, have their airport security cards confiscated and issued official warnings.
Fines will be issued by airport security, which operates under the Royal Air Force. Smokers who are fined will be asked for their Saudi ID cards or iqamas. All money generated will be deposited to a special anti-smoking fund belonging to the Ministry of Health.
Asked how foreign visitors who do not have iqamas will be fined, GACA spokesman Khaled Al-Khaibari said they constitute a small percentage of people who use airports and are usually familiar with smoking restrictions in their home countries. He added that airport staff will announce warnings over microphones, and that warning boards will also convey the message.
Asked whether the new rule will be successful in stamping out the problem, Al-Khaibari said yes, as it will be implemented stringently.