Advertising for cigarettes is still alive and well in Israel. Everyone should know that cigarettes are deadly, cancer-causing and harmful to your health. But you’ll still see youths and adults smoking cigarettes or trying a cigarette for the first time.
Israel won’t put an end to cigarette advertising, and it’s not just an opinion.
We’ve seen the Knesset Economics Committee pass bills to lessen cigarette smoking and advertising, but the Ministerial Committee on Legislation has postponed cigarette advertising bills. Likud MK Yehuda Glick, a sponsor for bills on banning cigarette advertising states “the government of Israel serves the tobacco companies and surrenders to them.”
Eitan Cabel, chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, suggests that the government is “addicted to working for the tobacco companies.”
Commercials that advertise cigarettes continue to promote the deadly habit as “cool.” But what’s cool about 8,000 Israelis dying annually and an army of youths ready to fill the void for lost customers of the cigarette companies?
Lawmakers have also done little to stop the presence of vaporizers. The Juul has been allowed without regulation despite having excessive levels of nicotine. The Juul, which has restrictions in the EU, is unlike a wax vaporizer or liquid vaporizer because pods can have as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
The result is an “alternative” that often leads to a person smoking and adding to the widespread addiction to cigarettes that the Israeli government has failed to tackle.
Even if alternatives through Yocan vape are safer, the government has done little to back or criticize claims. The tobacco industry’s hold on Israel’s government remains as strong today as it did in the 80s and 90s. The military, an area where many Israelis start smoking, allows seven-minute smoke breaks, so many enlistees choose to smoke to get a break.
And the issue is even worse statistically for smoking in Israel than in other countries. Reports from the Israeli government show that sales of tobacco for water pipes rose, between 2016 and 2017, a staggering 28%. Loose tobacco sales grew by 9.3%. Compared to the rest of the world, Israelis use tobacco more often.
WHO reports that 25.4% of Israelis, 15 or older, smoke tobacco. The average for smokers across the world is 21.9%.
What’s the reasoning behind our higher tobacco usage? Well, to start, advertising laws are in favor of the tobacco industry. You’ll also find that all tobacco is not taxed equally. Rolling tobacco and water pipe tobacco, those of which rose by over 25% in sales, have a much lower tax rate than cigarettes.
So, even though cigarettes may have higher taxes, the government has done little to match the higher taxes, which are used as a deterrent. Taxes are also not imposed equally across all tobacco products.
If you look at other countries, you’ll find that there was a worldwide execution of the 2003 Framework Convention of Tobacco Control. Introduced by WHO, the framework made calls for higher taxes on tobacco products, bans on advertising, warning labels and awareness campaigns.
Israel signed the FCTC, but we have yet to implement the recommendations.
Until the hold that the tobacco industry has on lawmakers fades, we’re not likely to see a reprieve in cigarette or tobacco use in Israel.