A law restricting smoking in public places was passed in a unanimous vote by the Knesset on Thursday.
The law, which will come into effect within the next few weeks, is designed to protect the public from subjection to second hand smoke in public places.
Under the new law, people caught smoking in no-smoking areas will receive a fine of up to NIS 1,000 ($230). Business owners, including those of shopping centers or bars, can expect a fine of up to NIS 5,000 ($1,160), if they fail to reinforce the law.
The law was initiated by Chairman of the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee, MK Gilad Erdan (Likud). Prior to the vote, Erdan explained that the new law was expected to ensure the reinforcement of the existing prohibition on public smoking in the country.
Thus far, the legal responsibility of business owners ended at hanging “No Smoking” signs. The new law obligates them to actually request that smokers do not smoke in areas where it is prohibited.
If individuals violating the law refuse to put out their cigarette, business owners are further required to report them to the local inspection authority. The new law also requires local authorities to advertise a telephone number where inspectors can be reached.
“The old law didn’t offer a real incentive to authorities and business owners to reinforce the prohibition. I believe the new law will prevent the absurd situation that forces pregnant women, children, and non-smokers in general, to tolerate cigarette smoke entering their lungs in every public place,” Erdan said.
He expressed hope that the public would participate in reinforcing the new law, by reporting individuals and business owners who violate it.
The Israel Cancer Association encouraged Erdan’s initiative, and was confident that it would help to reduce the damage caused by smoking.
“Raising fines and giving responsibility to business owners is a deterring factor, and will turn them into goodwill ambassadors of the law, if they cooperate,” a statement by the association said.