smoking cafe 224.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Although smoking in entertainment and other public places
is illegal, the level of dangerous particulate matter from tobacco smoke in Tel
Aviv pubs and bars is five times higher than recommended and endangers the
health of both customers and employees.
This was discovered by Dr. Leah Rosen of ’s health promotion department and is
to be published on Friday in the European Journal of Public Health.
She said that enforcement of the law by municipal inspectors is not effective
because their numbers are small.
It is ironic that many local authorities are not
enthusiastic about enforcing no-smoking laws, as they pocket the fines and use
them for other purposes.
Another reason for the poor enforcement, Rosen said, is
that owners of pubs and bars inform one another when inspectors are on their
way, meaning that when they arrive, none of the customers or employees are
Rosen, who formerly worked in health promotion in the Health Ministry, found
that the level of tobacco pollution in such entertainment spots in Tel Aviv
declined by only 10 percent after the expanded no-smoking law went into effect
in 2007, while Jerusalemites are better behaved, with the level declining by
70% in such establishments in the capital.
The study was sponsored by FAMRI, the Flight Attendant Medical Research
Institute in the whose members suffered – and sometimes died – from diseases
caused by chronic exposure to smoke on airline flights before smoking was
barred on board.
The 2007 law extended the prohibition from smoking to bars and pubs after it
was previously outlawed in cafes and restaurants. In addition, the owners of
these and other public establishments were made liable for enforcing no-smoking
laws by paying large fines if they fail to do so. The size of the fines was
Rosen said that the rate of smoking customers in bars and pubs declined from
19% before the law took effect to 9%, but the influence of the 2007 law has
since declined due to poor enforcement and reduced fear among violators that
they will be punished.
The overall level of toxic respirable suspended particles from tobacco has
declined from 245 units to 161 since the law took effect, reflecting a 34%
reduction in air pollution in bars, pubs and cafes. But in Tel Aviv, it dropped
from 393 to 353 units, which is just a 10% decline, compared to the 70% drop in
If the Israel Police were equipped with measuring devices for respirable
suspended particles, said Rosen, or if public places and bar owners were
required to install passive sensing and recording devices that yield objective
results, Rosen suggested, it would be easier to enforce the law and protect
customers and employees from damage to their health via secondhand tobacco
smoke, which kills an estimated 2,000 Israelis a year.
A TAU symposium on smoking and legislation will be held at 4
p.m. on Sunday, with a lecture by Harvard University School of Public Health
Prof. Gregory Connolly and the chairman of the Israel Council for the
Prevention of Smoking, lawyer Amos Hausner.
Meanwhile, the Israel Cancer Association – which is a member of the Council for
the Prevention of Smoking, said on Thursday that 40% of all cancers can be
prevented by healthful lifestyles such as not smoking and by exercise, eating
nutritious foods, reducing alcohol consumption and minimizing exposure to the