Moshe Kahlon
Moshe Kahlon Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) rejected a request to raise taxes on rolling tobacco, Israel Cancer Association (ICA) said Wednesday.

According to The Jerusalem Post, ICA Chairman and senior oncologist Professor Eliezer Robinson and ICA Director General Miri Ziv wrote a letter to Kahlon slamming him for refusing to explain why he had ignored their demands.

Taxes on rolling tobacco are significantly less than tax on pre-prepared cigarettes. According to The Marker, in 2013 alone Israel lost 130 million NIS because smokers switched to buying rolling tobacco instead of prepared cigarettes. Since then, the number of smokers buying rolling tobacco instead of regular cigarettes has grown, causing an estimated loss of over a billion shekels.

Accordng to Ziv and Robinson, raising taxes on both types of tobacco significantly reduces smoking. In New York City, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg succeeded in bringing down the smoking rates 35%.

Ziv and Robinson also noted that low socioeconomic groups are the ones most likely to smoke, and the poor health caused by smoking widens the socioeconomic and health gaps between the rich and poor, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Kahlon's communications adviser, Omri Harushi, said Kahlon had "vowed not to raise taxes" and saw equalizing taxes on rolling tobacco and pre-prepared cigarettes as a "tax raise."

It is worth noting that despite FDA precautions, Israel willingly agreed to become the first country to market "smokeless" iQOS cigarettes. Though these are taxed like regular cigarettes, they are not regulated and may be sold to minors.

According to Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ), if the FDA finds iQOS to be problematic, it will be taken off the market.

Other ministers, insisting Israelis do not deserve to be the world's guinea pigs, were ignored by Litzman, who met personally with representatives of tobacco giant Phillip Morris.

Though Litzman proposed several new anti-smoking regulations in January, he has not actually taken steps to make them law. In fact, Litzman buried the smoking report, saying he needed to "reexamine the statistics," and opposed a proposal to raise the minimum age for smoking to 21.

This, despite the fact that the number of smokers in Israel rose from 19.7% in 2015 to 22.5% in 2016, and the number of IDF soldiers who smoke at discharge stands at 37%. Soldiers who smook shoot less accurately, endangering their own safety and that of the country they defend.

Philip Morris Ltd:"Contrary to what is claimed in the article, IQOS has been launched in 25 countries around the world and 3 million adult smokers have quit smoking and switched to it. The company submitted an application to the FDA for recognition of the product as a modified risk tobacco product.

In the United States, unlike the Israeli law, the marketing of new tobacco products requires prior approval, and for this reason only, the product has not yet been marketed in the United States. Philip Morris Ltd. is marketing the product in Israel in a responsible manner and in accordance with the law only to current smokers over the age of 18".