Majority supports expansion of anti-smoking law

Knesset will discuss proposals to make using tobacco products illegal at performances, bus and train stations, other locations.

smoker (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The vast majority of Israelis support the enforcement of smoking prohibitions both indoors and outdoors, according to a study by Dr. Leah Rosen, a Tel Aviv University researcher who studies smoking and its prevention.
On Wednesday morning, the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee will discuss government proposals to amend no-smoking laws so that using tobacco products will be illegal at outdoor performances, bus and train stations, swimming pools, stadiums, entrances to hospitals and clinics and other outdoor locations. Additionally, areas where smoking is still allowed will have to be designated as so.
Rosen, who works at the university’s School for Public Health in the Sackler Medical Faculty, studied the views of 505 Israeli men and women comprising a representative sample of the country.
The TAU research was published in the journal Health Policy. In addition, the university’s School for Public Health will hold a conference on June 13 on the medical and economic effects of smoking and public policy.
Asked to comment on the proposals to be discussed in the committee, Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking head Amos Hausner told The Jerusalem Post that “basically, those were the recommendations of the Gamzu Committee headed by Health Ministry director-general Prof. Ronni Gamzu.”
While he welcomed the addition of places to the list of prohibited places, Hausner added, “The problem is that after the recommendations the ministry made, many compromises were made.”
“The bill was watered down significantly, even though the original recommendation was modest to start with according to international standards,” he continued.
“All ‘smoking rooms’ in enclosed public places are an anachronism and have long been outlawed in most civilized nations.
Israel had committed itself to do so in the 2007 Bangkok protocol to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Leah Rosen’s study has proved that smoking rooms do not solve the risk of people being exposed to tobacco- smoke poisons.
The problem is even worse in places with central air conditioning, which spreads the poisons throughout the entire building,” the smoking-prevention activist and lawyer said.
The new TAU study showed that 44 percent of smokers supported the new proposals to limit smoking.
Rosen and her team asked whether more strict enforcement of no-smoking laws would harm business, and found that not only would the businesses not be hurt, but that the number of customers would increase in smoke-free establishments.
Nearly a quarter of those queried said they would patronize bars and pubs more if no smoking were allowed, compared to only 9% who said they were less likely to visit if the bars were free of smoke.
Fully 94% of those polled said that smoking should not be permitted in vehicles where children were passengers.
Even 90% of smokers concurred.
In addition, 75% of the public said that smoking should be forbidden in school courtyards – it is already banned inside the buildings – and teachers’ rooms.
Ninety-three percent agreed that smoking should not be allowed just outside entrances of medical facilities; 58% were against smoking at train stations and 82% in the public areas in apartment buildings.
Thirty-seven percent said smoking should be prohibited in open spaces on campus.
Almost 69% of the public said they were exposed to smoke against their will at least once a week. When one person smokes, others gravitate toward him, causing more disturbance to non-smokers.
Even smokers object to others smoking against their will – 95% of them said they were exposed to other people’s smoke against their will at least once a week, compared to 66% of former smokers and 66% of those who have never smoked.
Almost a quarter of smokers said it bothered them for others to smoke near them.
Over 90% of non-smokers and 73% of former smokers said the same.
Rosen concluded that “unfortunately, the authorities enforcement of no-smoking laws is inadequate.”
In over 90% of pubs, there is smoking even though it is illegal and dangerous to people’s health, she said.