The fight to eradicate smoking is stepping up a notch in Israel. The Knesset recently debated on the country’s first proposed law banning cigarette advertising. Print press, however, will be exempt from this ban. If the law passes, electronic cigarettes, grouped with tobacco products, will also be restricted in terms of advertising.
The law proposal was brought forth by Knesset Members Yehuda Glick and Eitan Cabel. The first review of the law passed by a large majority, with 49 for, 4 against, and 2 abstentions. This advertising ban will concern all tobacco-based products, rolling papers, and electronic cigarettes. Three reviews remain to determine if the law is adopted.
MK Eitan Cabel was quoted saying “this law is an issue of nothing less than life and death”. Tobacco consumption and associated dangers have ravaged Israel’s population, in particular the young. The powers that be are as a result pushing forth to implement strong measures to reverse this trend.
An urgent measure
Yehuda Glick spoke of a “tobacco epidemic” that requires immediate attention. Each year, 8000 people lose their lives due to tobacco-related health issues. Of these, 800 are simply due to second-hand smoking.
Other laws are expected to pass to bolster the government’s overarching anti-smoking initiative. The tobacco lobby is particularly strong in Israel, however. It was thanks to lobby intervention that print press was decided to be exempt from the ban. The former Minister of Health, Santé Yael Germal, qualified this exemption as “shameful capitulation”.
While smoking rates in the country fell to 20% in 2011, they have now risen back up to 22.5% of the Israeli population. In this light, the total ban on tobacco advertising is a necessary measure. For many, the fact that the ban covers e-cigs as well, which can help smokers quit, can seem a tragedy in itself.