The Jerusalem Municipality does not plan to make big money from the amendment to the anti-smoking law passed last week raising fines for people illegally smoking and introducing penalties for owners failing to prevent customers from smoking in public areas on their premises. "The goal of the enforcement of the law is to prevent the suffering of the passive smokers and not the enrichment of the city treasury," says municipal spokesman Gideon Schmerling. Under the new law for Preventing Smoking and Exposure to Smoking in Public Places, which passed unanimously on July 25, a fine of NIS 5,000 will be issued to owners, and an NIS 1,000 fine for smokers - up from NIS 310 - for each violation of the ban on smoking in public places. The law also prohibits putting ashtrays or similar objects in public places, with a fine of NIS 1,290 for each ashtray, and requires municipalities to establish a round-the-clock hot line to accept complaints. However, Schmerling says City Hall does not plan to install a special hot line for smoking violations. He notes that there is already a call center, 106, which locals can use to report violations of the law. Furthermore, Schmerling says, the municipality plans to continue its vigorous commitment to enforce the smoking law. As reported in In Jerusalem ("No ifs, ands or butts," February 23), Jerusalemites are particularly notorious for violating the law. At the time, Schmerling told IJ that 700 fines had been issued in 2006 to those violating the law. But MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), who initiated the most recent law, claimed this figure was incorrect. Quoting a Health Ministry report, Erdan said that from mid-2005 to mid-2006 the municipality gave out 326 fines: 180 in the malls, 28 in restaurants, 12 in workplaces, 24 in hospitals and 82 in other locations. The new smoking ban takes effect on August 15. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich and Gavriel Fiske contributed to this report.

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