(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Owners of public places will have to enforce no-smoking laws on their property and municipalities will be required to establish a round-the-clock hot line to accept complaints, after the Law for Preventing Smoking and Exposure to Smoking in Public Places passed in its final readings at the Knesset on Wednesday night.
The law, which is expected to produce a major change in the quality of life for the 75 percent of the population who don't smoke, was initiated by lawyer Amos Hausner, who chairs the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking and helped write the bill for its sponsor, Likud MK Gilad Erdan.
"The Knesset passed an important bill that will save the lives of Israeli citizens," Erdan told the plenum after the law passed unanimously, 33 to 0.
The law, which goes into effect in 90 days, sets down a fine of NIS 5,000 for every time owners fail to prevent customers from smoking in public areas on their premises. If a fine is ignored, it will grow to a maximum of NIS 67,500. Similar fines will be levied for failing to hang the required number of "no smoking" signs. The smoker himself will also pay a NIS 1,000 fine for each violation, instead of the current NIS 310. The bill would also prohibit putting ashtrays or similar objects in public places, with a fine of NIS 1,290 for each ashtray. The fine proceeds are to be kept by the municipalities and local authorities.
Under the existing, largely unenforced law, smoking in public places is permitted only in separate and ventilated rooms that are not used by nonsmokers, on condition that the space is less than a quarter of the whole premises and only if the owner wants a smoking room.