Manama: A husband divorced his wife just three months after their marriage after he found a cigarette inside her bag. A relative of the wife said that her husband became furious after he discovered the cigarette and decided to divorce her despite her pleas and her claims that she did not smoke and that the cigarette was not hers, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Sunday from the southern city of Jizan.
The husband has insisted on the divorce and attempts to have him change his mind over the issue and to accept reconciliation have so far failed as he argued that he was certain that the cigarette belonged to his wife. Readers’ comments ranged between criticism of the husband for his “hasty decision” and for claiming that a cigarette was ground for divorce to full support to his decision act towards a woman “who did not tell him the whole truth about herself.”
According to official figures, around 600,000 women smoke cigarettes in Saudi Arabia, making up one tenth of the total smoking population estimated at six million smokers. The figure includes a significant proportion of expatriates and around 800,000 teenagers, mainly intermediate and high school students.
A Saudi judge last year ruled that women who suffered as a result of their husbands’ smoking were allowed to file for divorce. In October 2012, Saudi judges set a new trend in the country by using cigarette smoking as a factor in child custody cases. “A parent could now lose the custody case if he or she is proven to be a smoker,” a legal official said. “Under the emerging trend, the smoking factor is now being treated like the drinking factor and can decide the outcome of the custody case,” he said. The court would favour non-smoking parents and would factor smoking into custody cases to protect the child from the negative impact of passive smoking.
A study conducted this year in the western city of Madinah concluded that around 40 per cent of Saudi university female graduates flatly rejected to marry husbands who smoked. The young women attributed their uncompromising decision not to “marry themselves into a smoking home” to health concerns about themselves, their future husbands and their future children. Social activists in Saudi Arabia regularly conduct awareness campaigns about health risks related to smoking and passive smoking and call for the adoption of several legislative restrictions.