​The Minister of Health publishes the report of the Minister of Health on smoking for 2016
On May 31, 2017, international non-smoking day was declared in Israel and around the world. The Minister of Health is publishing today the annual report on the state of smoking in Israel for 2016.
 
The annual report presents data on the dimensions of smoking in the general population, updated data on cigarette smoking and narghile among the youth, smoking among IDF soldiers, a comprehensive survey of the prevention activities and the many efforts invested in them, shared by the Ministries of Health, Education, Finance, the IDF, the health funds and many other organizations.
 
In addition, the report presents an overview of legislative and enforcement activities in the area of smoking, smoking cessation in Israel and various economic data on smoking, including state tax revenues on tobacco, national cigarette consumption, and the tobacco industry’s investment in promoting and encouraging smoking on young people and in general.
 
According to the results of the Health Habits Survey of 2016, which ended recently, the rate of smokers in Israel stands at 22.5% among those aged 21 and over, an increase of 2.7% compared to last year.
 
31.1%  of all men in Israel smoke and 15.8% of all women in Israel smoke. The smoking rate among men in Israel is higher than the overall average in the EU (25.6%), ranked 12 out of 35, but the rate of smoking among women in Israel is slightly lower than the overall average in the EU (16.9%) and ranked 20 out of 35.
 
The smoking rate among the Arab population is 23.4%, compared with 22.3% among the Jewish population, and the weighted by age is 27.8% for Jewish men, 17.7% for Jewish women, 43.9% for Arab men, and 9.8% for Arab women.
 
According to these data, the number of smokers in Israel is estimated at one million and two hundred thousand smokers.
 
The annual report presents updated data on smoking among youth. The Ministry of Health’s “Mabat Youth" survey for the years 2015-2016 shows that among Junior High students, the rates of smoking of cigarettes were 2.6% of Jewish boys and 1.7% of Jewish girls compared with 1.2% and 0% among Arab boys and girls, respectively. This rate rises in high school age to 14.4% of Jewish boys and 7.1% of Jewish girls, compared with 10.6% and 0.8% among Arab boys and girls, respectively. Although we would not like to see any smoking among teenagers, we can be encouraged by the continuing trend of a decline in smoking rates among youth as well as among those who enlist in the IDF.
However, narghile smoking rates are high and increase with age. Among eleventh and twelfth graders, 39% of boys and girls in the Jewish sector tried to smoke narghile and 42% of boys and girls in the Arab sector.
 
According to IDF reports, the smoking rate at the time of enlistment in the IDF in 2016 was 24.8% among the recruits and 14.9% among the women’s recruits, indicating a significant decrease compared to the previous figures of 2012 (30.6% among recruits and 23.3% among the women recruits).
 
The Health Minister’s decree, which went into effect in February 2016, prohibited smoking throughout the educational institution, both in the building and in the yard, and within a distance of ten meters from the entrance to the school, in order to minimize the exposure of students, teachers and visitors to forced smoking. The circular letter issued by the Director-General of the Ministry of Education, on the subject, distributed to all the directors of the educational institutions, and the Ministry of Health launched a campaign to raise awareness of the new legislation.

In the area of enforcement, the report notes the problem of enforcing the law to prevent smoking in local authorities and calls for exploring new ways to change the situation.
 
Tobacco companies continued to invest in encouraging and promoting smoking through advertising, sponsorship, direct mail and sales promotion in 2015, and recorded a record investment of NIS 63 million in promoting and promoting smoking in Israel./
 
In 2016, there was a 4% increase in the number of participants in the smoking cessation programs at the HMOs, and there was a record of nearly 27,000 smokers who had been rehab, only 2.2% of all smokers.

Since the entry into the health basket of the subject of withdrawal from smoking in 2010, 163,180 have been referred for rehabilitation with the help of HMOs.
 
The report presents the effect of the existing tax distortion on tobacco for self- rolling, which is reflected in the continued rise in tobacco imports to self- rolling compared with the decline in cigarette imports. The existing gap is severely damaging the effectiveness of taxation policy as an effective and proven tool for reducing smoking and its damage, and to prevent the onset of smoking among young people, as well as the cumulative loss of income of over NIS 1 billion over the past seven years. The Minister of Health intends to appeal to the Minister of Finance in the next few days to raise the tax on rolling tobacco.
 
State revenues from purchase taxes on cigarettes and tobacco for self- rolling amount to approximately 6.34 NIS billion, excluding VAT and excluding income from other tobacco products.
 
In February this year, a ranking of EU countries was published, based on a score determined in accordance with the degree of implementation of the recommended policy for combating smoking. From a similar examination of the implementation of Israeli policy, we received a score of 43.5 out of 100, which ranks us 28th out of 35.