A judge has ruled that Saudi women are permitted to divorce husbands who smoke. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archive

Dubai: Saudi women who suffered as a result of their husbands’ smoking are allowed to file cases against their husbands should they have health issues, a Saudi judge has said.

Appeals Judge Ebrahim Khodairi said in an interview published in the Arabic-language Saudi newspaper Al Watan that the “legal rules applied in these cases could reach the stage of divorce.”

“If a woman married a man and then found out that he is a smoker, and she mentioned in her case that she had, as a result of his smoking, a health issue in the chest and severe allergy, after stating that she didn’t want in the first place to marry a smoker because she considered it a fault in the man, their marriage should be ended because of the harm smoking causes and the inability of the couple to continue their life together,” Khodairi explained.

However, he excluded the cases of those women who were aware of their husband’s smoking prior to finalising their marriage contract.

Moreover, the duration of marriage is another factor for the judge to take into consideration, Khodairi said.

For instance, the case of a woman who is married for 20 years to a smoking man, will be dismissed, because the woman has already accepted the fact.

The judge’s statements had received scores of comments on social networking sites.

“How can I convince my husband to quit smoking?” asked a Saudi woman.

“I have a smoking brother and I can’t stand him,” noted another man in a sarcastic tone.

“If this is the case, all women will be divorced,” wrote a second man, in reference to the high percentage of smokers in Saudi Arabia.

Six million smokers

According to official figures, there are nearly 6 million smokers in Saudi Arabia — including 600,000 women, and 772,000 teenagers, including intermediate and secondary school students.

Saudi Arabia is the fourth largest importer of cigarettes in the world, noted Saudi press reports.

“Thousands of workers die annually as a result of inhaling the smoke of fellow smokers during working hours. A recent poll, which included smokers and non-smokers, revealed that an estimated 98 per cent would like smoking ban at their work environments,” a press report that was published last year said.

“Don’t you know that smoking is very harmful to pregnant women and its baby?” a Saudi woman posted online. “My brother-in-law is a smoker and my sister gave birth to a deformed baby boy.”

“The judge’s words are 100 per cent correct. Thump up judge,” wrote another man.