Silhouetted Israeli soldiers from the Home Front Command Unit take a smoking break during an urban warfare drill inside a mock village at Tze'elim army base in Israel's Negev Desert June 11, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Fifty-nine percent of Israeli children are exposed to secondhand smoking, according to an Israel Cancer Association study released Tuesday.
Data from the Health Ministry show that every day 22 people here die from smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer, throat cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death.
In total, about 8,000 people die every year from these smoking-related illnesses, of which 800 are passive smokers, the Health Ministry statistics stated.
These numbers come days before the world marks World No Tobacco Day on Friday, which was instituted by the World Health Organization. According to the WHO, a total of 165,000 children under the age of five die each year due to lower respiratory infections caused by passive smoking.
WHO statistics from 2019 also state that smoking-related illnesses kill about eight million smokers annually, while about a million nonsmokers die worldwide from secondhand smoke. Statistics from Prevent20, a global coalition of cancer groups, said about 20% of all cancer-related deaths are connected to cigarette smoke, and that smoking is the main cause of lung cancer among smokers. It has also been found to be the reason for about two-thirds of diagnosed lung cancer cases around the world.
Smoke can linger in the air for up to five hours after the smoker leaves the room. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, which includes 69 known carcinogens.
In 2013, the WHO adopted the target of reducing tobacco use worldwide by 30% by 2025.
Despite the concerning numbers, the Israel Cancer Association pointed out that about 50% of young smokers are considering quitting smoking as a result of rising cigarette prices in general and tobacco prices in particular. Residents of the coastal plain and the South are considering stopping smoking more than other members of the public.
In February, the Finance Ministry announced that it had signed an order to impose higher taxes on loose tobacco, which has dramatically raised its price and negatively affected the younger generation’s initiative to buy tobacco.
The ICA survey revealed an interesting picture of public opinion regarding smoking.
The results showed 40.2% of the total smoking population is already considering quitting smoking as a result of rising tobacco prices. Among the 25-34 age group, about 50% of them are considering to stop smoking, while 46% of smokers between the ages of 18 to 24 are too considering stopping.
“That in view of the proven effect of price increases reducing smoking rates, we are satisfied with the updated Tax Authority data, which attest to the achievement. After years of consistent increases in consumption, tobacco prices dropped sharply by 58%,” the ICA said.
“At the same time, we are following with concern the 13.3% increase in the import of regular cigarettes, which may indicate that the heavier and older smokers are less impacted,” the association said. “However, for the younger generation, high tobacco prices prevent their entry into the world of smoking and addiction to a harmful and deadly habit, which is why tobacco companies’ recent advertising campaigns for the reduction of regular cigarettes, formulated in a style that appeals to young people, are worrying.”
The ICA research also found that those who smoke e-cigarettes or use other smoking devices end up smoking regular cigarettes at higher rates than non-smokers.
The ICA survey was conducted by the Ipsos Institute and 506 men and women, ages 18 and above, representing a national sample of the population.
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