Health Ministry Warns: 40% of Children Are Exposed to Second-Hand Smoking

YERUSHALAYIM -

During Monday’s meeting of the Special Committee for Dealing With Drugs and Alcohol, the Chief Toxicologist of Environmental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Tamar Berman, said that according to the initial findings of a Health Ministry study that was conducted using urine tests, some 40% of the children in Israel are exposed to secondhand smoking, and a third of their parents are aware of this.

“These are very severe findings,” Dr. Berman told the committee. “Smoking by parents and other family members is a significant source of exposure to toxic lead among children and teenagers.”

Committee Chairwoman MK Michal Wunsh (Blue and White) berated the Tax Authority’s representative at the meeting over the failure to advance the plan to tax electronic cigarettes. “The market is breached, and teenagers continue to get addicted and hurt. While we are [delaying the process], the tobacco companies are not standing still.”

Tax Authority representative Kobi Bozo said in response, “We are working on our best move forward, but I cannot say when we will the present the proposal to the decision makers. It’s a complex issue.”

MK Wunsh added, “During the corona period, the addictive tendencies among teenagers are stronger. There is an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs, and the likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus increases when they are passed from mouth to mouth. There is no enforcement when it comes to the sale of cigarettes to minors. On average, there are 8.7 cigarette selling points within a 1,000-meter radius of schools.”

Mark Luria of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking said, “During the corona period people go outside for some fresh air, but people smoke right into their faces.”

Committee Chairwoman MK Wunsh called to establish an independent and “well-budgeted” body that will oversee all the addiction-related issues and integrate the dissemination of information, education, identification, treatment and accompaniment of teenagers and their parents.