Justice Minister Tzipi Livni last week voted down, in the Ministerial Committee
on Legislation that she chairs, a bill that would prohibit smoking in open
The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control – which it ratified in 2005 – urges signatories to halt smoking in
outdoor public places, including sports facilities.
The bill, raised this
time by Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol, aimed at including open sports stadiums in the
list of places where outdoor smoking has been prohibited for the last year, as
at railway, light rail and bus stations (with a roof).
Yael German, who was also present in the committee, decided to appeal the
decision in another meeting of the ministerial committee to be held on July 7.
The Health Ministry has strongly backed the prohibition of smoking in public
places, including sports stadiums.
Facing heavy opposition to the bill
from Livni and other members of the ministerial committee, including Yisrael
Beytenu MK Yair Shamir, Kol agreed to “compromise” by barring smoking from only
some sections of outdoor sports stadiums and allowing it in other
Livni explained in a post on her Facebook page this week that
while she herself “stopped smoking two-and-a- half packets daily at 15.45 on May,
20, 1998,” she felt understanding for smokers and felt that “people who are
addicted to tobacco should be given elbow room in open public spaces” so they
could “release their tension.”
So that nonsmokers would “not be exposed”
to clouds of smoke from the addicted, the justice minister suggested that some
parts of the stadium could be smoke-free and others with seats for
Irit Shemesh, a tobacco-control activist, wrote back to Livni’s
Facebook page voicing her anger over the justice minister’s decision to vote
against Kol’s proposal.
“How can you vote against a bill aimed at
preventing serious disease and death?” Shemesh asked. “I have nothing personal
against smokers. Smoking is personal – as long as it remains that way and does
not enter the public sphere, where it affects the health of other
Shemesh added that having separate parts of open sports stadiums
with and without smoking was impractical and unfair because the wind would blow
the toxins to the nonsmokers.
Israel Council for the Prevention of
Smoking head Amos Hausner told The Jerusalem Post: “The whole world is
increasingly prohibiting smoke in open public places. Must Israel oppose this,
as if we were the primitive ones?” “Livni should not have voted as she did
before checking and realizing that she was violating an international agreement
ratified by Israel,” he said.
No comment was available from Livni’s
personal spokeswoman, Maya Bengel.
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