(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The first-ever class action suit in Israel against a restaurant for allowing smokers to light up where it is forbidden has resulted in a NIS 2.5 million-plus-expenses settlement against the Foccachetta restaurant in Jerusalem.
The case was filed against the restaurant by lawyer Amos Hausner, head of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking, and the settlement was okayed by District Court Judge Yitzhak Inbar.
A meal voucher of NIS 600 will be awarded to each of the restaurant's customers who declares in front of a lawyer that he patronized Foccachetta in May and June of this year and was exposed involuntarily to tobacco smoke.
The expenses to be paid by Foccachetta include the plaintiff's newspaper advertisements and court administrator and legal fees.
The restaurant will also be bound to observe the law that bars smoking in all public places (except for in completely separate and ventilated smoking rooms if the proprietor decides to set them up), and Foccachetta will have to publish an advertisement in a local and a national newspaper declaring this commitment.
The current law obligates food establishments not to serve people who smoke there in violation of the law.
However, a new law going into effect on November 7 obligates the owners of all public places not only to instruct smokers to put out their cigarettes (or other tobacco products), but also to call a municipal complaints number and file a complaint.
The new law also significantly raises the penalties against smokers and sets down hefty fines against proprietors, including one for each ashtray (NIS 1,000 apiece) left on tables.
The district court's settlement is precedent setting, said Hausner, and should induce more and more public establishments to observe no-smoking laws.