Israel Railways Fined NIS 6 Million Over Platform Smoking

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Israel Railways train seen in the northern Hefer Valley. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/FILE)
An Israel Railways train seen in the northern Hefer Valley. (Moshe Shai/Flash90/FILE)

Smoking on Israel Railways trains is illegal – and, based on a 2012 law on smoking in public places, so is smoking on train platforms. But Israel Railways failed to enforce that law for years, leading to a class-action lawsuit that cost the railroad NIS 6 million, in a decision handed down last week.

The lawsuit was first certified by a Yerushalayim court in 2014, when passengers complained that they had been exposed to secondhand smoke on railway platforms. Repeated complaints by passengers to train officials yielded no action, other than warnings by officials to offenders to stop.

Backing up the plaintiffs’ complaints was a 2013 report organized by attorneys, who visited 53 stations and filmed people smoking freely on platforms. On several occasions, the attorney himself lit a cigarette in full view of train personnel, who did not respond.

The railroad claimed that by preventing people with a lit cigarette from entering stations and placing signs inside the stations it had done the maximum to warn people not to smoke. The court said that the railroad should have been more proactive, and that it did not show that it had taken “reasonable action” to prevent smoking, awarding the plaintiffs – who represented all non-smokers who ride the trains – with the award. Israel Railways has not yet announced how the money will be distributed in its compensation for non-smokers.