No smoking in public places law to take effect

A Health Ministry order passed into law by the Knesset which prohibits smoking in many public places – indoors and out – will take effect Saturday, on September 1.

Smoking will be prohibited in places where outdoor events are held and attended by more than 50 people: in zoos, indoor or outdoor parks, swimming pools, sports fields, playgrounds, facilities where physical activity takes place such as basketball courts and gyms; and inside and outside hospitals and clinics, kindergartens and nursery schools, covered or underground parking lots, government offices, courts and religious councils.

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Hospitals, clinics, government offices, parking lots, zoos and events will be permitted to set smoking areas within 10 meters of the entrance or exit, provided that they are not a nuisance in other parts of the place and are not near residences.

Municipal clerks will be authorized to give fines of NIS 1,000 to individuals who break the law and NIS 5,000 to violators who are owners of public places where violations take place. But in the past, the overwhelming majority of local authorities in Israel have not fined smokers.

The Health Ministry by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee.

Committee chairman MK Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) emphasized that the committee made sure to include in the order provisions that make it possible to enforce the restrictions, “but not prohibitions that are not realistic. We have expanded the limits to the extent possible, but we have to adapt the restrictions gradually… There are tensions in Israel, and in times like these, more people tend, unfortunately, to smoke.”

Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who co-chairs the Knesset’s anti-smoking lobby and ensured that many public places would be added to the list, welcomed the order taking effect.

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“This is good news for residents of Israel, whose lives will be saved,” he said. “This is a key step among many, and we will not stop, because we want to save more lives.”

Glick also ensured that smoking rooms in the Knesset will be closed, except for one near the plenum for MKs, there would be fewer smoking sites outside the parliament building and smoking prohibitions in the Knesset would be better enforced.

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