(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
School teachers, principals, pupils and parents will have to learn their lesson: Starting in six weeks, smoking and smoking rooms will no longer be allowed in educational institutions, except for universities and colleges. In addition, smoking within 10 meters of an institution’s entrance will be barred.
The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Tuesday passed the bill in a unanimous vote. The regulation was initiated by the Health Ministry, which found that, on average, boys begin to light up at 15.6 years of age and girls at 16 years of age.
The fact that educators were until now allowed to smoke in teachers’ rooms served as a bad example, and pupils who were not allowed to smoke in classrooms or the halls complained about the “injustice.”
When anti-smoking activists tried to bar smoking in schools in 2012, they met fierce opposition from the teachers’ unions, but this time, the unions listened to reason and even initiated pilots in the north for “tobacco-free schools.”
The ministry official appointed to enforce laws on public smoking, Haim Geva-Haspil, said that the World Health Organization has determined that smoking rooms “do not protect against being exposed to secondhand smoke.” Smoking in government offices has been completely prohibited since 2012.
Lawyer Amos Hausner, the engine behind anti-smoking legislation for decades and head of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking, told the committee: “Smoking rooms must be obsolete.
Around the world, they have been banned. Unfortunately, there is no budget for educating the public to stop smoking, while the tobacco companies spend yearly nearly NIS 60 million to directly promote their products and more for subliminal and other advertising.”
Hausner continued and noted that only one staffer remains in the ministry’s department for enforcing laws on public smoking, leaving the ministry’s head of public health Prof. Itamar Grotto, Geva-Haspel and lawyer for tobacco matters Michal Goldberg silent.
Committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf said “The war against smoking must continue in an ongoing way, especially against the situation occurring in our young people.”