Electronic cigarettes
Electronic cigarettesiStock

Following the death of Medan Keller Baruch, age 16, and the hospitalization of another youth with damage to his lungs from e-cigarettes, the Health Ministry is recommending a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes with fruit, sweets, or spice flavors.

The Health Ministry has also set a goal of bringing the percentage of the population which smokes down from the current 20% to just 5% by 2035.

As part of the plan, the Ministry proposes raising the age at which smoking and smoking products are permitted from 18 to 21, and banning the sale of disposable e-cigarettes.

The plan will also limit the volume of refills which may be sold, imported, or marketed, and the Health Ministry will receive the authority to enforce the ban on internet ads and enforce the limits on nicotine concentration in electronic cigarettes. It will also include a ban on most non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors - a step which may reduce the number of youth who smoke e-cigarettes by 70%.

In addition, sale of smoking and tobacco products will be limited to designated stores only, and the tax on electronic cigarettes will be raised to match that of other tobacco products. Graphic warnings will also be added to all of the smoking and tobacco products.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov told Israel Hayom, "In light of the scope of the spread of this trend, we examined all of the possible steps. We are continuing to work to raise awareness of the dangers of using [e-cigarettes]. We recommend making strict policies."

Shira Kislev, Director General of Smoke Free Israel, told Israel Hayom, "We praise the document with the principles of action. This is a crucial plan of action for fighting the plague of smoking, and the fact that it exists shows that the State recognizes the need to fight this trend."

"However, it is disturbing that the document lacks any reference to enforcement mechanisms for smoking in Israel, especially the ban on selling to minors and the ban on advertising and marketing smoking products. Legislation alone, without defining authorities for supervision and enforcement, will not be sufficient against the force of the tobacco and nicotine companies. In addition to this, as always, the test of the document will be in implementation, especially with regards to timetables, proposed bills, amendments and orders, definition of authority for the Health Ministry, enforcement authorities, and budget."