(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote Sunday on a bill that would prohibit smoking in public parks and within 10 meters of the entrance to nursery schools.
“The goal of the bill is to protect children from the dangers of smoking in the areas where they spend most of their time,” said Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razbozov who proposed the bill. “The dangers of passive smoke to children are known to all, but there is still this unfortunate phenomenon. A small child cannot move elsewhere to escape from smokers or ask that they not smoke near them, so the law must be changed.”
Workers unions in the health industry helped author the bill, which also is intended to help keep parks free of cigarette butts.
Health Ministry statistics indicate that in 2011, 64 children came to hospitals after swallowing cigarette butts they found in parks or ashtrays at home.
“People forget that they are responsible for the people around them so they smoke in the presence of children,” said Dr. Leonid Eidelman, chairman of the Israel Medical Association.
“It has already been proven beyond all doubt that passive smoke is harmful, especially to children whose lungs are still developing.”
The current law already outlaws smoking in many public areas and requires no-smoking signs.
The Health Ministry passed a law in 2012 to bar smoking along the platforms of the capital’s open-air light-rail stations – with each cigarette smoked worth a NIS 1,000, fine but Jerusalem residents have complained that the bill is not enforced enough.
In addition, the ministry’s regulations also prohibit smoking at all covered bus stations around the country, yet ministry officials haven’t required municipalities to post signs at each station stating that smoking is prohibited and making clear when violators are liable to be fined.
Observers at any of the light-rail stations, at any time, can see many cigarette butts strewn, along with discarded fare receipts, on the pavement.
The ministry itself estimates that 10,000 Israelis die of smoking each year – 1,000 of them nonsmokers exposed passively to the smoke of others.
About 80 percent of Israelis do not smoke.