More than 1,500 people die annually of passive smoking
Some 23.8 percent of the adult population in Israel smoke. This is the lowest percentage of smokers registered in Israel since the testing began 32 years ago, according to a Health Ministry report for the years 2003-2004 which was published Monday for int
However, despite the reduction in the percentage of smokers, more than 1,500 people die as a result of passive smoking in Israel every year.
The smoking percentage has been dwindling gradually since the beginning of the '80s. While in 1974 some 50 percent of the men in Israel used to smoke, only 29.9 percent of them smoke today.
The report shows that while the number of Jewish women smokers is four times larger than Arab women smokers - 21 percent compared to 5.7 percent - the number of Arab male smokers is 30 percent larger than Jewish males (41.3 percent compared to 31.6 percent). The largest number of smokers in all the sectors (Jews, Arabs, men and women) is the 35-44 age group.
Among the men, 28.7 percent of the smokers reported that they smoke less than in the previous two years. Soldiers are also smoking less, having gone down from a one pack daily average in the '80s to about 15.1 cigarettes a day.
One of every five Jewish smokers and one of three Arab smokers is considered "heavy" - i.e. smokes more than one pack a day. Also, men are starting to smoke at a younger age. Some 9 percent of the male smokers started smoking before they were 13 and some 30 percent began smoking at the ages of 14 to 17.
Most men (46.9 percent) and women (48.1 percent) started smoking during their army service. For this reason the Health Ministry and Israel Cancer Association will mount a public relations campaign on smoking, intended for children and youths.
Cancer Association experts stress the severe effects of passive smoking, as well. Association director general, Miri Ziv, said "every year more than 1,500 people in Israel die from passive smoking. Passive smoking is more dangerous to children and infants. A new research has found that children living in homes of smokers are damaged by passive smoking, even if the smokers do not smoke in their presence, or smoke only outside the home."
She said that the study found that the level of contaminating substances found in dust, air and samples of carpets in homes of smokers were higher than in homes where there were no smokers.