An historic law was enacted by the Knesset on Tuesday, January 1, restricting the advertising and promotion of tobacco products in Israel. The new legislation is the most comprehension ever passed by the Knesset against smoking. It bans all advertising and promotion of products related to smoking, including electronic cigarettes, in all electronic media and the internet. However, it does not prohibit pitching tobacco products in the printed media.
The law threatens to deal a huge financial blow to Israel’s 9 billion shekels ($2.408 billion) a year tobacco-related industry. Local tobacco companies lobbied vigorously against the legislation after it passed its first Knesset vote in January 2018. The Juul e-vapor company even recruited some physicians for the campaign, and airport bigwigs argued in favor of continuing to allow advertising at duty free shops. Later the owners of kiosks also weighed in against the legislation, putting strong pressure on the bills proponents. In the end, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (from the Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party) succeeded in modifying the bill so that the advertising ban would not apply to newspapers and magazines.
Likud MKs David Amsalem, Oren Hazan and David Bittan, who argued against passage of the bill late in the legislative process, also supported the tobacco industry. However, the lobbyists met stiff resistance from Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) and Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg, and half a dozen of their colleagues who strongly favored the legislated restrictions.