Israeli smokers, who endured over recent years quite a few rules and restrictions, are about to experience more. The Health Ministry has decided that the current law is not enough, and now plans to restrict electronic cigarettes,
which many people use to quit smoking. In addition, restrictions on smoking regular cigarettes in public will be expanded as well.
Because electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco,
the law for the prevention of smoking in public places does not apply to them, but it turns out that electronic cigarettes still produce particles which damage health. "The use of some of these products is done through evaporation, rather than through combustion, as in tobacco products. Nevertheless, the evaporation process also produces various particles, including substances that are addictive and cause harmful emissions into the public sphere," the memorandum of law states.
Thus the Health Ministry plans to apply the law to these products as well, meaning that electronic cigarette smokers will also have to go outside malls and bars to smoke, and they will be ticketed if they do not.
“One of the problems with electronic cigarettes is that there is no supervision of the production and you cannot rely on what the manufacturers write about the product. There were products claiming they had no nicotine,
but testing revealed that there was nicotine in them. The central material in any electronic cigarette is ethylene glycol, which is potentially harmful when inhaled into the lungs," says Dr. Yael Bar-Zeev – consultant to the Israel Cancer Association
and chairman of the Israeli College of Physicians for Smoking Prevention and Cessation. A year ago, the Health Ministry warned against the use of electronic cigarettes, because they were found to contain hazardous materials.
The Health Ministry
is planning to ban smoking again in stadiums and amphitheaters. A year ago, the law was expanded to include bus stops, railway stations and additional locations, but the ban on stadiums was canceled at the last minute. "The audience is forcibly exposed to secondhand smoke from smokers instead. There is a particularly serious aspect to this when seating is marked and you cannot move to another seat and avoid exposure to this," said the memorandum.
“It’s not logical that a person's choice to smoke should come at the expense of the rest of the public which has the right to enjoy the place they are at, without having to risk their health. However, a quarter of the area in a stadium can be assigned as smoking. According to Dr. Bar-Zeev, it is unclear how much exposure would cause a person to get sick, but exposure for two hours each week in a football stadium, for example, increases the risk.
Even smoking in cafes and restaurants is expected to change. Today, it is permitted to smoke at locations which have balconies of 15 meters or larger. According to the memorandum on the new law, there will be no smoking in the courtyards of cafes and restaurants smaller than 20 square meters. The law also makes placing a sign prohibiting smoking and not placing ashtrays another duty of the owner.
"Someone who places an ashtray in a public location will actually be committing two offenses: The very act of placing the ashtray there; and also the proof that the person did not act to prevent smoking at the location, "explained attorney Assaf Weiss, a consultant to Health Minister Yael German,
who wrote the memorandum with Michal Goldberg, a legal adviser for environmental health within the Health Ministry.
The Health Ministry also intends to train supervisors on its behalf, in contrast to the current situation where inspectors are associated with the municipalities and enable the training of representatives who will enforce smoking restrictions in hospitals owned by Clalit and Hadassah. Today, restrictions are enforced only in government hospitals. A memorandum of the law will soon be submitted as a bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
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