(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Cigarettes will be sold in packaging the color of feces, and ads for smoking products will be banned from most media, following a law passed in a final vote in the Knesset on Monday, the second-to-last day before the legislature goes on its pre-election recess.
The law will require cigarette packages to be a brown color, Pantone 448c, which a study found to be the world’s ugliest color. Australia, the UK and France have already begun selling cigarettes only in that color.
The packaging will also feature health warnings against smoking. Packaging for e-cigarettes and related products will say “Warning – this product is very addictive and harmful to your health.” Packaging for other smoking products will say “Warning – smoking causes serious diseases and premature death.” A different warning will appear in the few cigarettes ads that will be permissible, which will only be in certain kinds of print media. The warning will have to take up as much space as the ad itself, and the Health Ministry will determine its text.
All packages of smoking products will be sold together with a pamphlet against smoking published by the Health Ministry.
Stores that sell cigarettes will only be able to put them in a place where customers cannot see them, or in a separate area that cannot be seen from other parts of the store, with the exception of stores that only sell smoking products or liquor stores.
In addition, companies cannot give free samples of smoking products.
The law passed following an ardent battle by Likud MK Yehudah Glick, one of the bill’s sponsors, which included a hunger strike and impassioned, tearful speeches.
Right before the vote, Glick said shehehiyanu, the blessing for a momentous occasion, and said, “This is the most significant law passed in the 20th Knesset.”
“This is about human lives. According to experts, this law will prevent 300 deaths a year,” Glick said. “Someone dies from smoking-related causes every hour in Israel.”
Knesset Economics Committee chairman Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) said the law was one of the most difficult to pass in his 22-year Knesset career, because of incessant pressure from tobacco lobbyists.
“We stood up to great forces with great influence and succeeded, despite it all, to bring a real revolution that will close the gate of smoking to young people,” Cabel said. “I know how important this law is, because I used to smoke three packs a day of Marlboro Red.”
Yesh Atid MK Yael German expressed disappointment that print media is exempted from the advertising ban, which she said was a result of publishers putting pressure on cabinet members.
MK Abdel-Hakim Haj Yahya of the Joint List talked about the Islamic prohibition to do things in which “the damage is greater than the benefit,” and expressed hope that the law will be expanded to included smoking hookah, which he said is even more harmful than cigarettes.
“We don’t want more people to enter the cycle of smoking and bodily harm,” he said.