Photo Credit: Michal Fattal /Flash90
Woman smoking in Jerusalem

The Ministry of Health is planning a revolutionary step for Israel’s healthcare system: A complete smoking ban in hospitals!

To Western-born Israelis, a ban on smoking in hospitals, doctors offices and health clinics might seem like a fairly obvious law. Incredibly, Israeli law currently permits smoking in open-air sections of hospitals and health clinics. Smoking is also allowed outside hospital buildings, at least 10 meters from the door to the building.

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To change that situation, Yedioth Aharonoth reported Monday that a bill has been presented to Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid). It is unclear whether German plans to sign the bill. If she does, it will ove to the Minsterial Committee for Legislation, and from there to the Knesset plenum for approval.

“This bill fits nicely with our approach that hospitals should be the very first places to promote health,” said Prof. Rafi Biyar, director general of Rambam hospital in Haifa. Biyar told the paper that many patients complain about cigarette smoke outside the hospital’s emergency room and while being transferred through open-air hallways between different wards of the hospital.

To mark World No Tobacco Day, held on Saturday, the ministry released the Health Minister’s annual report for 2013. Yedioth said the report marked the first time that less than 20 percent of Israel’s adult population – 18.7 percent – said they smoke. In addition, 19.1 percent of the population said they had quit smoking, marking the first time that ex-smokers outnumbered current smokers.

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