Israel has joined an international protocol for the prevention of illegal
tobacco traffic, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Ambassador to the
UN Ron Prosor signed the protocol on behalf of the state, as an addition to the
World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC),
which Israel ratified several years ago along with 176 other states.
ministry called illegal trade in tobacco a worldwide problem, as the proceeds
are used to fund terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and other criminal
organizations, as well as in money laundering. Such smuggling also leads to the
loss of legitimate tax income and harms the effort to reduce smoking and its
deadly effects on the population, the ministry said.
The protocol makes
it possible to combine international efforts to fight tobacco smuggling by
increasing security in the trade of legal tobacco supplies. It will require that
such supplies be marked and followed up so the authorities can identify where
they were produced and where they are supposed to be sold. In addition, there
will be licensing for “legitimate” tobacco merchants, and the sale of tobacco
products on the Internet will be restricted. The signatories of the protocol can
exchange information and extradite violators.
Israel is the 42nd country
– including European Union nations – to sign the protocol. The US, however, has
not yet signed even the FCTC due to tobacco lobbying in the federal
Now that Israel has signed, it must pass legislation to suit
the protocol’s instructions, and then ratify that legislation.
addition to fighting smuggling and reducing the use of illegal funds for terror
organizations, the protocol will help Israel better enforce limitations on the
advertising and marketing of tobacco products, the ministry said.
Knesset Economics Committee is currently preparing a bill on the subject for
second and third readings. The bill would amend the limitation of advertising
and would limit the marketing of tobacco products. However, the ministry has not
yet managed to close down legal smoking rooms in public buildings – something
the vast majority of advanced countries have already done, forcing smokers to go
outdoors to light up.
Meanwhile, the ministry has warned the public
against purchasing medical equipment and products from merchants, pharmacies and
other places in the Palestinian Authority. On Wednesday, the ministry’s
enforcement and supervision branch in the Galilee Triangle located a pharmacy
that had illegally purchased goods – including epidermic needles,
glucose-testing sticks and insulin pump equipment – from the PA.
ministry warned pharmacies and medical and dental clinics not to purchase
unapproved medical equipment and drugs from the territories, as their quality
was unknown and could thus endanger the public.