Israeli Government Targets Smokers in New Rules
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis feeling jittery over months of Middle East conflict will no longer be able to calm their nerves with a cigarette in many public places.
Under tough new anti-smoking rules taking effect on August 1, cinemas, restaurants, banquet halls and other places of entertainment will have to confine smokers to a specially ventilated room away from other patrons.
``It will be like the lepers' room,'' Yair Amikam, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, said on Army Radio.
The new regulations tighten an existing law. ``There will be no such (smoking) sections inside restaurants. The entire restaurant will be non-smoking, unless the owner sets up a separate room with the proper ventilation of course, which will be the only place where smoking is permitted,'' Amikam said.
The amended law also will ban smoking outright in schools, hospitals, shops and pharmacies. A puff in the wrong place will cost an offender a fine up to 230 shekels ($55).
The new edict drew some fiery reactions from Israeli smokers. But an opinion poll by the Dahaf Institute indicated widespread support for the ban. It said 76 percent of those questioned said the rights of non-smokers outweighed those of smokers. Among smokers who were polled, 55 percent agreed.