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      Israel Taking Steps to Snuff Out Public Smoking

      Jewish state is moving ahead to protect the public against the dangers of secondary smoke.
      By Hana Levi Julian, MSW, LCSW-R
      First Publish: 5/29/2011, 4:28 PM / Last Update: 5/29/2011, 5:00 PM

      Israel is moving ahead to protect the public against the dangers of secondary smoke, and hoping to persuade others not to even start smoking in the first place.

      The Cabinet approved at its regular weekly meeting Sunday the establishment of a new Health Ministry unit that will work on ways to improve public protection against coerced exposure to cigarette smoke.

      According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office, one of the measures to be implemented will be an amendment to the current law against smoking in public places.

      The advertising and marketing of tobacco products will also be restricted, the PMO said.

      Among the new restrictions will be a ban on tobacco sales in automated vending machines, which are  accessible to teens who are more likely to experiment with cigarettes without understanding the consequences to their health.

      Other restrictions include the inclusion of graphic warnings on tobacco products, and a requirement to report tobacco product ingredients.

      A number of ministers also have some homework ahead of them as well.

      Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is to reconsider tax rates on tobacco products and submit his recommendations to the Cabinet within 90 days, according to the PMO.

      Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar has been assigned to decide on an experimental plan for smoke-free schools at several educational institutions.

      Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan will also be busy – he will chair a special team to formulate a plan to reduce environmental damage caused by cigarette butts.

      Smoking is a known cause of lung cancer, and of emphysema, a slow but deadly disease that has no cure once the process gets underway. The inhalation of secondary smoke -- that is, smoke inhaled from standing next to someone else who is smoking -- has been proven to be as deadly to the human body as smoke inhaled by the smoker.