The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, chaired by Knesset Member Haim Katz (Likud) approved most of the expansion order to prevent smoking and exposure to smoking in public places. The order will substantially expand the public places where smoking is prohibited.
According to a request signed by the Prime Minister and Minister of Health Benjamin Netanyahu, smoking will be completely banned from performances, bus stops, swimming pools and the area around them, train platforms (other than a small designated smoking area at the end) and central bus stations (other than a smoking room).
Likewise, bus drivers will be banned from smoking on the bus before passengers board; smoking within ten meters of a hospital or health facility and allocating smoking areas in staircases will also be banned.
It was also determined that the area provided for smokers in restaurants and cafes is significantly larger than needed; non-smoking customers who wish to sit outside are forced to expose themselves against their will to smoke. Therefore, the area provided for smokers in restaurants and cafes shall be no larger than 15 square meters. Event halls and gardens will limit the smoking area to only 25% of the overall sitting area. Shai Berman, director of the Union of Restaurants, Cafes and Bars, protested the decision: We are the second largest employer in the market—let us continue to operate.”
The Ministry of Health also announced that it intends, in the future, to completely ban smoking from work places, as smoking rooms and air filter systems do not entirely prevent exposure to smoke. As the first step in that process, and in order to ”make an example,” smoking will be completely banned from government ministries by next month.
At the same time, the sections banning smoking in stadiums and amphitheaters was not passed. Similarly, at the request of the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health, Itzik Tomer, the Committee abstained from banning smoking in youth clubs and youth groups, due to the difficulty in determining these areas. The Director of the Ministry of Health, Professor Roni Gamzo, snapped at him, ”You must protect these children!” Committee Speaker Katz did not accept the request by representatives of the Association for Clean Air to ban smoking by actors on stage as part of a play.
MK Katz said in the discussion: We are significantly restricting the damage done by secondhand smoke and the area in which smoking is allowed. At the same time, we cannot exaggerate. There is also a smoking sector of the Israeli public, whom we also need to serve.”
The order will take effect 30 days after it is first passed.