Yakov Litzman
Yakov Litzman Hillel Meir/ TPS

Health Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) not only did not work to reduce the consumption of cigarettes, but also neglected to inform the public that he met with representatives of tobacco companies, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira wrote in his report.

The report, which was published Tuesday, states that, "Health Minister MK Yakov Litzman and senior Health Ministry officials met twice with representatives of tobacco companies, but in contradiction to the rules of the agreement, he did not inform the public of this fact."

"Any decision maker who meets with representatives of tobacco companies must inform the public, since if the public knows about the meetings, they can prevent the tobacco companies from pressuring the decision makers, and prevent decisions which are not in line with preservation of the public's health from being made.

"In addition, hiding the meetings with the tobacco companies representatives ignores the critical need for transparency.

"The State Comptroller's office emphasizes that Figure 1 is based on Health Ministry statistics, which were shown to the Knesset and which were not denied. In addition, Health Ministry statistics show that the number of smokers between 2012-2015 is higher than what is shown in Figure 1. The conclusion is that the number of young smokers is high enough that it significantly influences he total number of smokers during these years.

"The Health Ministry must work to reduce the number of smokers, and it must base itself on measurable and exact statistics."

Shapira's report also noted that the drop in the number of smokers continued until 2013, but since then, the number of smokers has risen 5.22%. He also noted that even though the Health Ministry is expected to work towards public health, and can, among other things, push for legislation to reduce smoking, the Health Ministry under Litzman has not acted for the benefit of the public heath in this area.

However, in January 2018, the Heath Ministry denied that the number of smokers rose in 2016, claiming that the surveys included, among other things, questionnaires answered on smartphones.

In July 2017, Litzman buried a report on smoking indefinitely, claiming that the number of smokers had risen in an "illogical" fashion.

In August 2017, Litzman staunchly opposed a proposal to raise the minimum age for smoking to 21. Such a step would have ensured that most soldiers doing their mandatory service would be too young to smoke, raising the army's efficiency and reducing the number of smokers overall.