The smoking rate in Israel fell from about 45 percent in the early 1980s to less than 20% prior to 2011. However, according to Israel’s Health Minister, they recorded the rate of smoking rising to 22% in 2016 from 20% the previous year. Israel has one of the highest life expectancies in the world in which an average life expectancy of 82.5 years on average. However, this statistic may be impacted because smoking is one of the leading causes of death in Israel. According to Israel’s Health Ministry, approximately 8,000 Israelis die every year which is linked to smoking. Among those perished are 800 non-smokers who inhale second-hand smoke. The Jewish state’s new smoking rate is comparatively high and ranks 28 out of 35 European countries (which has the highest rate of any region), according to the World Health Organization.
Healthcare professionals and anti-smoking advocates have been sounding the alarm long ago about the smoking occurring in the Jewish state. And while this is a complex issue with numerous factors involved, many have accused the government of not taking the threat seriously enough. There have been demands for the Israeli healthcare system to re-examine its own policies for dealing with tobacco-based products and whether it should allocate additional resources and attention to deal with this problem. There has also been an increase in alternative products such as wax vaporizers, and e-cigarettes, which have been shown to be not as harmful as traditional cigarettes in certain cases. Advocates are calling on for more warnings on the packaging of cigarette, as well as stricter limitations on how tobacco can be marketed and where it can be used. For example, the Health Ministry’s report showed that tobacco companies spend more than 60 million shekels ($17 million) annually on advertising and marketing, while the Health Ministry had only spent around 500,000 shekels ($140,000) on anti-smoking advertising.
Another change advocates would like to see is the closing of a tax loophole that cigarette companies are taking advantage of. This loophole allows for loose tobacco to be taxed at a lower rate than pre-rolled cigarettes. According to Haaretz, a growing number of Israelis have started smoking loose tobacco instead, which costs about forty-three percent less than the same amount of tobacco sold in a pack. Activists believe it is nonsensical to tax loose tobacco at a lower rate. Activists and community leaders are also calling for Israel’s anti-smoking policies to focus on helping young people cope or avoid tobacco usage. Last year, Israel enacted a ban on smoking at educational institutions, but people are calling for this ban to be better enforced. The Health Ministry has also found that around twenty-five percent of males and fifteen percent of females were smoking by the time they had begun their military service after high school. Then by the time they were discharged by the army, forty percent of men and thirty-two percent of women smoked, which is an increase of forty-two percent over the course of their military service. In conclusion, Israel has been doing a great job over the past few decades to curb tobacco usage, however, work needs to be done today if they are to stop today’s growth from continuing into the future.