Subsequently, cigarettes have disappeared from the shelves. The Kingdom has applied the GCC decision levying a unified tariff on the import of tobacco, spokesman of the Saudi customs department Isa Al-Issa was quoted as saying by Al-Hayat Arabic daily on Sunday.
He said, under the GCC decision, the prices of tobacco and all its brands have doubled.
Since the decision was announced, many shops were holding back stock to sell at the new price.
In Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, at least one shop was already selling packets of Philip Morris-branded cigarettes for SR15 instead of the SR10 previously charged, a smoker said.
Twitterati were split on the decision. Some of them welcomed it as a measure to curb smoking while others considered smoking a personal freedom.
“The annual bill of tobacco is about SR12 billion,” he said. The chairman said Naqa societies helped 1,898 out of about 3,000 to give up smoking.
Shop owners said they have not been receiving any cigarette supplies from importers since Wednesday. They attributed this to the fact that the suppliers were hoarding their quantities of cigarettes.
A smoker in Qassim, who identified himself by his first initials S.K., said he had to go all the way from his region to Riyadh because some of his friends told him that he could find cigarettes there.
“I bought a quantity at SR300. I used to buy the same quantity before at SR98,” he said.
The Finance Ministry said in the 2016 budget statement in December that it would apply “additional fees on harmful goods such as tobacco, soft drinks and the like.”