A private member’s bill that would impose significant fines for lighting up in most parts of sports stadiums was approved Monday by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare, and Health Committee for its second and third reading in the plenum. The bill was okayed unanimously by the committee, which is headed by MK Haim Katz.
Except for two separate areas of open-air seats and a smoking room that could be used only during recesses from games, all smoking would be prohibited. Individual violators would be subject to an NIS 1,000 fine – and facility owners to a fine of NIS 10,000 – which could jump to NIS 14,400 and NIS 75,300 respectively if a violator contests the fine in court and loses.
However, the bill does not account for the possibility of wind bringing tobacco smoke into the no-smoking section. Moreover, there is little enforcement of existing no-smoking legislation by the local authorities or the Health Ministry in public areas. For example, the Jerusalem Municipality has never fined anyone for smoking along the length of light rail stations, evidence of which is easily visible from piles of cigarette butts on the floor.
The ministry itself has not issued any regulations about posting signs and other details to implement a law it pushed through the Knesset two years ago that bars smoking at all roofed bus stops around the country.
In addition, smoking rooms are dying out in most of the world, as countries sign the World Health Organization’s Framework Agreement on Tobacco Control, which urges that they be abandoned.
According to the bill, no more than 25 percent of indoor space would be set aside for smoking during breaks at a sports event and in the outdoor stadium area during the game.
The bill’s originator, MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid), explained: “Smoking and sport don’t go together. Adults and children who come for enjoyment of a soccer game need not suffer from tobacco-polluting and choke-promoting smoke. Years ago, we were certain that the law barring smoking in planes and bars was impossible to enforce, and see where we are today.”
Katz added that he had been in sports stadiums abroad and “no one smokes there. Even though releasing aggression is an inseparable part of the soccer experience, there is room for consideration for all fans.”
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