​On Thursday, May 31, the International Day Without Smoking will be marked in Israel and worldwide.

In the run-up to this day, and according to legal requirement, the Deputy Minister of Health publishes the Annual Report on the Status of Smoking in Israel for 2011.
The annual report presents data on the smoking epidemic among the population at large, among youths and among the military. The report also provides an updated review of the national program for reduction of smoking and related health issues, which was approved by the government last year and which the Ministry of Health is responsible for leading in its implementation; the report also provides information on legislative activity for smoking-related issues and on the level of enforcement of bans on smoking in public places in the various local authorities.
The report presents general smoking-related economic data, including state revenues from tobacco taxation, the national cigarette consumption and the level of investment of the cigarette industry in Israel, which is fighting the national program for reduction of smoking and related health issues, including through advertising, sales promotion and promotion of youth smoking.
According to a survey (KAP 2010 Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior), which was conducted in 2010-2012, the percentage of smokers in the Israeli population among 21-year-olds and older is 20.6%. This is the lowest percentage of smokers ever recorded in Israel.
  • When dividing by gender, 27.1% of Israeli men smoke and 14.4% of the women.
  • The percentage of smokers among the Jewish population is 19.7% and the weighted percentage of smokers in the Arab population is 25.2%.
  • Smoking levels are 23.7% among Jewish men, 15.9% among Jewish women, 43.8% among Arab men, and 6.7% among Arab women.
  • In terms of trends in smoking levels, it appears that there has been a reduction in the percentage of smokers among Jews and Arabs of both genders.
Deputy Minister of Health, MK Yaakov Litzman, responded with satisfaction to the data, which indicates a reduction in the percentage of smokers in Israel and said that “the survey reflects a substantial increase in awareness of the dangers of smoking, which is continuing to gain momentum in Israel and worldwide, and of the need to prevent exposure to cigarette damage. We shall continue to lead the battle against smoking and smoking-related damage with all the means at our disposal, including legislation and prevention, in our effort to promote health and improve the quality of life in Israel”.
The data on youth smoking was obtained from the Israeli research on health behavior among schoolchildren for 2011 (HBSC). The data indicates that the percentage of students who have experienced smoking is on the rise, continually since 1998, both by gender and by sector.
When evaluating the percentage of students who reported smoking cigarettes or tobacco products at least once a day, there has been a decrease among Jewish girls but an increase among Jewish boys, Arab boys and Arab girls. 
When evaluating the percentage of students who have experienced smoking a hookah at least once, there has been a decrease in both genders in both sectors. 
When evaluating the percentage of students who smoke a hookah at least once a day, there has been a slight increase in both genders in both sectors.
From the data on smoking among IDF soldiers it appears that the percentage of smokers among soldiers who got drafted in 2011 was 29.8% and the percentage of smokers among soldiers who got discharged in 2011 was 37.0%. 
The percentage of smokers among female draftees was 24.2% and among females on discharge was 30.0%. 
As for males who took up smoking during their service, the percentage of new smokers for 2011 stood at 6.0% of all discharged soldiers. For females who took up smoking during their service, the percentage of new smokers stood at 5.9% of all discharged soldiers.
A discharged smoker smoked on average 13.3 cigarettes per day. The average daily consumption for 2011 among discharged females was 10.4 cigarettes per day.
Among draftees, the average age for taking up smoking in 2011, male and female, was 15.5 and 15.6 respectively.
The average age for taking up smoking among discharged soldiers in 2011 was 16.4 for men and 16.1 for women.
As far as enforcement of the smoking prevention law is concerned, the Tel Aviv municipality is the leading local authority in Israel, having issued 2,501 fines in 2011 to smokers and businesses that violated the law. 
The Beer Sheba municipality ranks second with 643 fines, Jerusalem third with 443 fines, Rishon LeZion is fourth with 200 fines and Holon is fifth with 123 fines.
Concerning withdrawal, withdrawal workshops were added to the health services basket in 2010, as well as subsidies for anti-smoking prescription drugs. After 11,844 people requested withdrawal workshops through their HMOs in 2010, the trend continued and in 2011 this number increased to 19,646 applicants.
This number expresses a growth of 330% over the predictions at the time the withdrawal technology was introduced into the health services basket, which emphasizes how important and necessary it is to subsidize withdrawal technologies in the medical services basket.
An increase in the number of withdrawal workshops that were opened in 2011 was recorded in all four HMOs, as well as an increase in the number of training courses delivered to train withdrawal coaches and in the number of coaches as well.
The data from the activities of the smoking withdrawal telephone hotline, operated by Maccabi Healthcare Services but which is excluded from the medical services basket, it transpires that operating the telephone withdrawal hotline is highly effective for smoking withdrawal, and it exhibited similar or even better success rates than the withdrawal workshops, plus they provided better accessibility to the smoking withdrawal services to the entire population.
According to the law, the cigarette companies are obliged to report their expenditure on advertising, sponsorships, sales promotion and direct mailing every year. From the 2010 data it appears that these expenditures added up to NIS 51,460,780 (a 38% increase over 2009), of which advertisements and direct mailing totaled NIS 30,894,421 (a 54% increase), sales promotion campaigns totaled NIS 20,354,291 (a 19% increase) and sponsorships totaled NIS 212,068 (a 362% increase). This is a new and disturbing record in the cigarette industry’s investment in promoting and encouraging smoking in Israel. 
As far as the investments in the different advertising channels is concerned, a sharp increase can be seen in the investments in advertisements and interactive internet gaming, through use and diversion toward the Facebook social media network, where the cigarette industry exploits loopholes in the existing legislation for the use of this most accessible, common, cheap and available medium for propagating focused messages targeting youth.
Estimates show that state revenues from cigarette taxation in 2011 amounted to NIS 5 billion, where the national cigarette consumption stood at 426 packets of cigarettes – a 0.1% increase over 2010.
This year’s report also cites three researches conducted recently in Israel: one research on the implementation of the smoking prevention law in public places and pubs in Israel in general and in Tel Aviv specifically, another on smoking as a risk factor for consumption of health services among healthy youths during their conscription service in the IDF, and a third on public attitudes toward no-smoking areas in Israel.
The minister’s report also presents a translated summary of a report from the US surgeon-general for 2012 on teen and youth smoking.