Manama: Saudi women have added divorce to the risks and dangers associated with smoking, court data have indicated.

According to a report published on Monday in Saudi Arabia, more than 100 women in the Western city of Madinah have filed for divorce after their husbands refused or were unable to quit smoking.

“Courts in other cities in Saudi Arabia have also accepted cases filed by unhappy wives who wanted a divorce over the issue of smoking,” Okaz daily said. “Attempts by reconciliation committees to keep the spouses have failed to convince the wives who insisted on smoke-free husbands. The issue is now being addressed before the wedding and several young women in Madinah have rejected marriage proposals from men who smoked,” the daily said, citing a report on the status of smoking-related divorces.

The report was prepared based on studies and research on the effects of smoking on marital relations.

The daily said that around 40 per cent of Saudi university 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.

A Saudi judge in summer ruled that women who suffered as a result of their husbands’ smoking were allowed to file for divorce.

In October, 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 top Saudi football team in August imposed heavy financial penalties on a group of players caught smoking shisha in a coffee shop in Abu Dhabi, where the squad was taking part in a friendly tournament.

According to official figures, Saudi Arabia is home to six million smokers, including around 800,000 teenagers, mainly intermediate and high school students, and 600,000 women.

However, expatriates also account for a significant proportion of cigarette consumption in Saudi Arabia despite the increase in awareness campaigns about health risks related to smoking and passive smoking and the adoption of several legislative restrictions.