Will smoke no longer get in our eyes?

Jerusalem businesses were fined for allowing smoking after a resident's complaints.

smokers Jerusalem 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
smokers Jerusalem 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After helping make a difference in Tel Aviv, one clean-air activist is now concentrating efforts to prevent smoking in public places in Jerusalem. Hadas Sella and her organization Avir Naki (Clean Air) created a complaint form that the general public can fill out and send to their municipality's Enforcement Department. While Sella strives to keep people from smoking anywhere, at the very least the law to ban smoking in public places must be properly followed and respected, she says. "I don't want people to think the laws in this country are a joke." Citizen-based enforcement of the smoking ban is not new, but Sella says that the Avir Naki complaint form has a new and effective component that allows signatories to declare their willingness to testify in court against the public place in question. The form is available on the organization's Web site: www.avir-naki.com If a municipality accepts this type of enforcement, its officials no longer have to catch smokers in the act to issue a fine. While Tel Aviv has welcomed the help from its residents, it is not yet clear where Jerusalem stands. When asked about resident-based enforcement, municipal spokesman Gideon Schmerling wrote: "The city of Jerusalem enforces the law to limit smoking by employing municipal enforcers who operate throughout the city. Complaints [from the 106 hot line] are treated immediately by the municipality 24 hours a day." Meir Dadia, head of Jerusalem's Enforcement Department, says that the NIS 5,000 fine for businesses that violate the no-smoking law and the NIS 1,000 fine for the smokers are intended as a deterrent, not a money-maker for the municipality. "Fines are not an expense that people are supposed to pay," he says. "They are supposed to warn people not to smoke in the first place." Following Sella's complaints to Dadia's department, however, she believes a nightclub and a kiosk were issued fines. Yossi Shazo, the owner of Reva Lesheva on Rehov Hillel, says his kiosk was issued a warning by a city enforcer but was not fined. He says no one smokes at his kiosk, but when IJ paid a visit both Shazo and his employee were smoking. They hastily hid their cigarettes once they understood a reporter was present. Daniel Gorodetsky, general manager of Mike's Place on Jaffa Road, admits his nightclub was issued a fine but says he will fight it in court. "We will challenge the fine because we have always made an effort to prevent smoking," he says. "From now on, we will try even harder because we are aware of the price when someone lights up a cigarette." Sella says that while enforcing the smoking ban is important, she also sees a different reason for smokers not to light up when around non-smokers. "Beyond the law [Avir Naki] wants people to respect each other and their right to clean air."