TAU researcher: Enforcement of no-smoking laws ineffective

Since 2007 law, pub smoking down 70% in Jerusalem, 10% in Tel Aviv.

smoking cafe 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
smoking cafe 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Although smoking in entertainment and other public placesis illegal, the level of dangerous particulate matter from tobacco smoke in TelAviv pubs and bars is five times higher than recommended and endangers thehealth of both customers and employees.
This was discovered by Dr. Leah Rosen of ’s health promotion department and isto be published on Friday in the European Journal of Public Health.
She said that enforcement of the law by municipal inspectors is not effectivebecause their numbers are small. 

It is ironic that many local authorities are notenthusiastic about enforcing no-smoking laws, as they pocket the fines and usethem for other purposes.

Another reason for the poor enforcement, Rosen said, isthat owners of pubs and bars inform one another when inspectors are on theirway, meaning that when they arrive, none of the customers or employees arecaught smoking.

Rosen, who formerly worked in health promotion in the Health Ministry, foundthat the level of tobacco pollution in such entertainment spots in Tel Avivdeclined by only 10 percent after the expanded no-smoking law went into effectin 2007, while Jerusalemites are better behaved, with the level declining by70% in such establishments in the capital.
The study was sponsored by FAMRI, the Flight Attendant Medical ResearchInstitute in the whose members suffered – and sometimes died – from diseasescaused by chronic exposure to smoke on airline flights before smoking wasbarred on board.
The 2007 law extended the prohibition from smoking to bars and pubs after itwas previously outlawed in cafes and restaurants. In addition, the owners ofthese and other public establishments were made liable for enforcing no-smokinglaws by paying large fines if they fail to do so. The size of the fines wassignificantly increased.
Rosen said that the rate of smoking customers in bars and pubs declined from19% before the law took effect to 9%, but the influence of the 2007 law hassince declined due to poor enforcement and reduced fear among violators thatthey will be punished.
The overall level of toxic respirable suspended particles from tobacco hasdeclined from 245 units to 161 since the law took effect, reflecting a 34%reduction in air pollution in bars, pubs and cafes. But in Tel Aviv, it droppedfrom 393 to 353 units, which is just a 10% decline, compared to the 70% drop in.
If the Israel Police were equipped with measuring devices for respirablesuspended particles, said Rosen, or if public places and bar owners wererequired to install passive sensing and recording devices that yield objectiveresults, Rosen suggested, it would be easier to enforce the law and protectcustomers and employees from damage to their health via secondhand tobaccosmoke, which kills an estimated 2,000 Israelis a year.

A TAU symposium on smoking and legislation will be held at 4p.m. on Sunday, with a lecture by Harvard University School of Public HealthProf. Gregory Connolly and the chairman of the Israel Council for thePrevention of Smoking, lawyer Amos Hausner.

Meanwhile, the Israel Cancer Association – which is a member of the Council forthe Prevention of Smoking, said on Thursday that 40% of all cancers can beprevented by healthful lifestyles such as not smoking and by exercise, eatingnutritious foods, reducing alcohol consumption and minimizing exposure to thesun.