(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman opposes broad legislation to prohibit tobacco advertising in newspapers, but has agreed to “limiting” such ads, including the requirement of placing anti-smoking ads in the same newspapers that publish tobacco ads.
He spoke at Monday’s session on no-smoking law enforcement at the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.
Litzman, a Gur Hassid, is known to be closely associated with Hamodia, the ultra-Orthodox daily affiliated with Gur Hassidim and his Agudat Yisrael party that publishes many tobacco ads in a “religious” context. During his previous tenure as deputy health minister more than two years ago, he came out in opposition to the requirement that cigarette packs carry photos of dirty lungs and teeth to discourage children and youth from smoking, arguing that such illustrations were “not aesthetic.”
Litzman’s predecessor, Yesh Atid MK and former health minister Yael German, pointed out that the smoking rates in countries that prohibited tobacco advertising in all newspapers dropped quickly by an average of nine percent. She added that “because of a huge and illegitimate lobby of newspapers and those affiliated with them, the bill to prohibit such ads did not pass in the previous Knesset.”
Litzman responded: “But now I am in this job, and not you!” The committee, headed by Kulanu MK Eli Alalouf, also discussed the “lack of enforcement” of no-smoking laws in the IDF. The chairman demanded that the ministry do more to reduce smoking and called for the implementation of the cabinet decision four years ago to establish a national authority for the war against smoking. Alalouf said he has “never seen an inspector giving anyone a ticket for smoking in public places.”
Within three months, his committee will hold a special session on statistics regarding enforcement of the no-smoking laws. There was no mention of the fact that even though three years ago the ministry prohibited smoking under roofed bus stations around the country and since 2011 on Jerusalem Light Rail platforms, it released no regulations and it has never been enforced.
Likud MK Nurit Koren said she has been shocked to see children as young as 10 in the streets smoking tobacco in water pipes. This will become even more common during the school vacation, she said, when children have nothing to do and parents are unaware of what they are doing, she said.