One in five Israelis is a smoker, according to a new Health Ministry report. The statistics show that 19.8% of Israelis age 20 and older smoke cigarettes. That figure, correct for 2018, is a slight improvement over the last one issued last year, reflecting data for 2017, which showed that 20.5% of Israelis 20 and over smoked. In 2016, the figure was 21.6%.
The data was collected in a telephone poll based on a scientifically-determined sample of Israelis of all backgrounds. Nearly half (46%) of those who admitted smoking said they had been doing so for at least ten years. Of those long-term smokers, 53% are men, and 32% women.
As in past reports, smoking rates in the Arab sector are far higher than among Jews. For those age 21 to 34, there are 1.5 Arab smokers for every Jewish smoker, while among those age 54 and older, the smoking rate for Arabs was double that of Jews. The average Jewish male smoker takes up the habit at age 18.4; for Jewish women it was 19.8 years of age. Among Arab men, the average age to begin smoking is 19.8, while for Arab women it is 24.
Commenting on the report, Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said that “the efforts of the Health Ministry to fight smoking show results over the years. After several years when smoking rates were stable, we can see that there is a trend downwards and an improvement in the situation relative to previous years. The Health Ministry will continue with its activities to improve the protection of the public from being exposed to smokers and smoking, and to further restrict marketing efforts by the tobacco industry.”