Haj: No smoking zone
The kingdom has launched a major campaign to make the cities of Makkah and Madinah tobacco free during Haj this year.
November 3, 2009 10:30 by Mohammed Rasooldeen
Saudi’s Ministry of Health has launched a campaign among pilgrims to make Makkah and Madinah completely tobacco free during this year’s Haj season.
“Under the ministry’s Tobacco Control Program (TCP), we have printed around 1.5 million leaflets in different languages for distribution among pilgrims – both smokers and nonsmokers,” said Majed Al-Munif, TCP’s supervisor-general.
He added that the brochures are available in various languages such as Arabic, English, French, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Indonesian and Swahili.
“We require the cooperation of pilgrims to make the two holy cities among those with the lowest tobacco consumption in the world,” he said, adding that the sale of tobacco is strictly banned in the area within five-kilometers of the Holy Haram in Makkah and Madinah.
Billboards and posters with anti-smoking messages, information regarding anti-smoking clinics and fatwas on the subject are on display in the two cities. Buses carrying pilgrims have anti-smoking posters on them. Folders containing pamphlets, flyers, postcards and stickers will also be handed to pilgrims at the Jamarat during Haj.
“We’ve coined a slogan for this Haj – ‘Make Arafat Day, A Quit Smoking Day.’ The slogan will serve as a pledge … that will enable pilgrims to quit smoking,” Al-Munif said.
Over two million people visit the two cities during Haj each year.
Apart from the anti-smoking campaign, the kingdom’s cabinet has also urged pilgrims to follow the rules of the place. “Let there be no sexual relations, nor sin, nor dispute during the Haj,” the cabinet said in a statement, quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an.
The statement also said that the safety of the pilgrims would be paramount. “The kingdom’s policy does not allow any party to tamper with the smooth operation of Haj events and undermine the security of pilgrims.”
First seen in Arab News.