Saudi Father Pays Son $267,000 as Reward to Stop Smoking

24 April 2008

A successful Saudi businessman from Taif, a city in the Mecca Province, paid his son a $267,000 reward for quitting smoking, the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper said on Thursday.

The son learned of the gift when he asked bank officials why such a large sum had appeared on his account.

"I'm glad that after nine years of smoking my son finally managed to get rid of this bad habit," said the father, whose name was not disclosed.

Saudi Arabia, the 23d largest consumer of cigarettes, has witnessed a major anti-smoking campaign in recent years. Last year, the state filed a $2.7-billion suit against major tobacco companies, requesting they cover expenses of treating Saudis for smoking-related diseases.

According to recent surveys, 24% of the Saudi population are smokers, spending a total of $1.3 billion on cigarettes annually. The country also has 600,000 female smokers.

Although Islamic texts do not specifically prohibit smoking, Islam's holiest cities Mecca and Medina have recently been declared tobacco-free.

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