Saudis puff away nearly $1.35 billion worth of cigarettes and tobacco every year, more than the Gulf Kingdom’s spending on rice imports, a local newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Arabic language daily Alriyadh, quoting experts, said around 40,000 tonnes of tobacco are consumed in Saudi Arabia annually.
“This means Saudis pay nearly Srfive billion ($1.35 billion) on cigarettes and tobacco every year,” it said, quoting Mohammed Barzanji, head of the chest diseases section at Suleiman Faqih hospital in the western Red Sea port of Jeddah.
“This figure exceeds the value of the Kingdom’s annual imports of rice…this highlights the severe economic damage inflicted on the country’s economy as a result of diseases associated with smoking.”
Saudi Arabia, which controls over a fifth of the world’s recoverable oil deposits, has a population of around 27 million, including nearly seven million expatriates.