Cigarettes Just Doubled in Price in Saudi and Smokers Are Not Happy

Published June 11th, 2017 - 11:40 GMT
A 100% tax has been placed on cigarettes in Saudi Arabia from today (Wikimedia Commons)
A 100% tax has been placed on cigarettes in Saudi Arabia from today (Wikimedia Commons)

From today buying a packet of cigarettes will cost you twice as much in Saudi Arabia. It’s part of a new tax targeting products that are bad for your health including soda, energy drinks and, of course, tobacco.

The 'selective' tax is applied according to how harmful an item is: Fifty percent for a fizzy drink - 100 percent for a smoke.

Seem unbelievable? Well, this morning one Saudi tweeted the proof.

The rest of Saudi Arabia’s estimated six million smokers were quick to respond, using the hashtag “rise in the cost of smoke” to express their dismay.

*Looks up how to make cigarettes at home*



One even uploaded a video appearing to show queues outside a shop selling cigarettes, as people rushed to hoard supplies before the cost increase came in on Sunday.

And some have questioned what effect the tax will actually have.

People who used to buy a packet for 12 riyals will buy it for 24 riyals. What's the benefit of this increased cost? Why not first ban imports?

Still, a few (non-smokers, its safe to say) had a more positive take on it:

Your opportunity to quit, brothers.

Ramadan is any opportunity to change - you spend more than half of the day without smoking, why not continue for the rest of it. It’s better for you, your health, your money and your religion before all of that.

As in much of the Arab world, smoking is widespread among Saudis and is particularly common among the young people of this youthful society. As many as 14 percent of under-18s in the kingdom smoke, according to the Saudi Gazette.

After the new legislation was announced last year, Dr. Mohammed Yamani, chairman of a charity helping smokers quit, said that “the move is a positive and important step toward combating the unhealthy habit”. 


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