Saudi working towards tobacco-free Haj piligrimage

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Haj Pilgrimage
Dubai, Nov 3: Launching a full-fledged 'no-smoking campaign' to make the 2009 Haj pilgrimage tobacco free, the health ministry of Saudi Arabia has banned the sale of tobacco and tobacco products within the five kilometers of the two holy sites - Mecca and Madinah.

"Under the ministry's Tobacco Control Programme (TCP), we have printed around 1.5 million leaflets in different languages for distribution among pilgrims - both smokers and nonsmokers," TCP's supervisor-general Majed Al-Munif said.

Even though the leaflets are available in Arabic, English, French, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Indonesian and Swahili languages, the language barriers is proving to be detrimental to the campaign, say media reports.

Since Saudi King Abdullah declared the two holy cities tobacco free in 2002, the country has been putting in continual efforts to make this completely possible.

"We require cooperation of pilgrims to make the holy cities among those with lowest tobacco consumption in the world," the campaign supervisor-general said.

The ministry aims to educate the pilgrims through pamphlets, flyers, postcards, stickers, billboards and posters with anti-smoking messages, along with providing them information regarding anti-smoking clinics.

"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 added.

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