The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a western Asian country inhabited by around 30m people, the capital of which is Riyadh.
Known for its deeply religious and conservative views, the country is effectively a theocratic state in which the regulatory framework must be in line with Islamic laws. Additionally, the two most sacred cities for Islam, Mecca and Medina, are located in the country.
Since the discovery of petroleum, the country has experienced exponential economic growth and is considered as a high-income economy with a high Human Development Index by the World Bank. Despite important inequalities – especially affecting non-national residents – the GDP (PPP) per capita is among the highest in the world, and is similar to that of the Netherlands.
It is also the only Arab country to be part of the G20 – or Group of Twenty, an international forum for the governments of 19 countries and the EU to discuss policy relating to the promotion of international financial stability.
In alignment with Saudi Arabia’s 2030 vision for the promotion of public health, it is expected that this step will contribute to the country’s overall tobacco control agenda.
The authorities, however, request that smokers quit or switch to medically licensed alternatives (e.g. nicotine patches). In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the highest mark to the country’s tobacco dependence treatments as it offers a “national quit line, and both NRT and some cessation services cost-covered” and praised the policy they are following: “Four countries (Czechia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and Sweden) advanced to best-practice level with their tobacco use cessation services”. Moreover, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns were also considered among the best.