​The Finance Committee this morning approved the directives issued by the Finance Minister, at the recommendation of the Deputy Minister of Health, and which have been issued according to the national program for reduction of smoking and smoking-related damage. According to the directive, the tax burden on hookah tobacco and additional tobacco products will be significantly increased, while at the same time reducing the tax exemption on cigarettes in the duty-free stores.

The Finance Committee this morning approved the directives issued by the Finance Minister, at the recommendation of the Deputy Minister of Health, and which have been issued according to the national program for reduction of smoking and smoking-related damage (a committee set up by the Director General of the Ministry of Health). According to the directive, the tax burden on hookah tobacco and additional tobacco products will be significantly increased, while at the same time reducing the tax exemption on cigarettes in the duty-free stores from two packs to one.
This approval came only after the fourth meeting of the committee on this issue, since during the first three meetings the forum failed to muster a majority in favor of the minister of finance’s and the health ministry’s request. This was the result of intense pressure applied on the Knesset members by the tobacco companies and the owner of the duty free franchise, James Richardson.
According to the new directives, the tax exemption on the import of tobacco and alcohol products will be granted only to individuals aged 18 and above, and the exemption will be reduced from two packs (400 cigarettes) to one pack (200 cigarettes). The new directive will take effect as of April 1, 2013.
Nargila smoking has become a widespread habit among youths in recent years. Damage from this kind of smoking exceeds even the damage from cigarette smoking, and a direct link has been found between the smoking of hookahs among youths and risky behavior, such as drug and alcohol consumption, and violent behavior. 
According to the directive, the tax on hookah (narghile) tobacco has been increased by 130% effective immediately (this increase came into effect two months ago), and within three years the tax increase will amount to 500%. From the price standpoint, this means an increase from about NIS 10 for a packet of hookah tobacco two months ago to about NIS 35 in three years’ time. 
In addition, the tax burden has increased on other tobacco products such as cigars and cigarettes.
This measure comes in addition to further measures from recent weeks, which the Ministry of Health has lead as a part of the implementation of the national program for reduction of smoking and smoking-related damage, including an expansion of the restrictions on smoking in public places and government approval of the Ministry of Health’s proposed amendment of the law limiting advertising and marketing of tobacco products, seeking to totally prohibit advertisement of tobacco products, marking of tobacco products with warnings including pictures of the damage caused by smoking, a tightening of the enforcement of the ban on sales of tobacco products to minors and more.