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Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri caused disappointment among public health advocates and anti-smoking activists when he was interviewed on TV while smoking cigarettes.
The 78-year-old minister is not alone in the cabinet for being hooked on tobacco. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is known to be partial to cigars, Environment Minister Gideon Ezra is a heavy cigarette smoker as is Minister-without-Portfolio Eitan Cabel and Education Minister Yuli Tamir, among others, also smokes occasionally.
The Health Ministry's senior officials have definite plans to reduce the smoking rate, which is now 26 percent of adults and the cause of 10,000 Israeli deaths per year, and Ben-Yizri's habits did not please them. They hoped his policy would differ from his personal behavior.
His wife Hava seemed to be their ally when she confided to an anti-smoking activist at the ceremony that she hoped he would quit the habit.