Saudi smokers to pay increased health insurance premium

Saudi Arabia government is mulling an increased premium on health insurance policies for smokers,to discourage the habit.

Written by Agencies | Dubai | Published:January 19, 2009 1:12 pm

Saudi Arabia government is mulling an increased premium on health insurance policies for smokers,to discourage the habit.

The country’s health ministry has already directed insurance companies to categorise between smokers and nonsmokers,and impose an additional premium for smokers since they fall in a high-risk class.

A series of measures will be undertaken by his ministry to discourage smoking,Saudi health minister Hamad Al-Manie told Arab News,”We have instructed the purchasing,supplies and maintenance departments in the ministry not to accept quotations for the supply of products and services from such companies.”

Under the new rule,companies engaged in selling tobacco or cigarettes,and individuals who are board members of such companies will be prohibited from registering as contractors with the ministry of health.

“The companies will not be given medical licenses to operate as the ministry’s contractors,” the minister said.

“According to the minister’s directives,we are working out a set of new rules to combat smoking in the Kingdom,” Ibrahim S Al-Musaidteer,DG,Legal,Ministry of Health said.

The minister said he would take the new initiative to the GCC Health Ministers Council for implementation in other GCC member countries also.

It is estimated that 35 to 40 per cent of the people in Saudi Arabia above the age of 15 smoke. While round 24 per cent of male students between the ages of 13 to 15 and eight per cent of girl students smoke. The Council of Ministers is currently drafting a new bill that will impose a 200 Saudi riyal fine on people who smoke in public.

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