The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Monday the Health Ministry’s proposal to severely restrict the advertising and marketing of tobacco products.If approved as law, the legislation will constitute a major boost to the effort to minimize smoking and a considerable change to the advertising sector in Israel. The proposals have been vigorously opposed by the tobacco lobby.Under the new proposal, which is aimed at reducing the “attractiveness” of cancer-causing goods, tobacco products may not be advertised in newspapers and on the Internet, although advertising in tobacco shops may continue.Tobacco companies may not sponsor events at universities.Health Ministry tobacco warnings must cover 30 percent of the packets’ surface area, instead of the 5% required today.Food and toys that are similar to tobacco products, such as chewing gum in the form of cigarettes, may not be produced or marketed because they provide tobacco with a positive image.Tobacco products with fruit flavors and others may not be sold because they attract youth and make it easier for them to get addicted to tobacco.Tobacco products may not show images of fruit, used today to market nargileh tobacco. (Smoking water pipes is illegal for minors.) Cigarette companies may not distribute free products for any purpose, including membership in marketing clubs. Retail outlets must ensure they are not selling tobacco products to minors, just as they currently are legally required to do for alcoholic beverages.Health warnings for tobacco products must include not only words but also pictures and images, as has been the case for years in other countries. The health minister will decide on the number of warnings, their design and how often they must be changed.The tobacco companies must report to the health minister and the public at large on the contents of their products and the toxicity of their ingredients, as is required for all food products.The health minister will empower inspectors with broad authority to enforce the law, including the ability to confiscate smuggled and unlabeled tobacco products. Heavy fines will be set for violations.The ministry said that after the law is passed, some parts will be implemented immediately, while others will be carried out gradually over the coming three years.