Figures Show: Chareidi Smoking Rates Surge in Israel

By Aryeh Stern

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

One in five adults in Israel smokes, with the rate rising to one in two among chareidi adults, according to data presented at a Knesset Health Committee meeting last week. The committee highlighted the alarming prevalence of smoking and the increasing addiction to electronic cigarettes, which are reportedly four times more addictive than traditional cigarettes.

Committee Chairman MK Osher Shkalim (Likud) stressed the need for new legislation mandating warning labels on cigarette packs about the dangers of smoking. He called for a coordinated effort between the Health, Education, and Finance ministries to increase funding for smoking prevention programs targeting students and teenagers.

“The data presented is deeply concerning, and we must act swiftly to mitigate this public health crisis,” Shkalim stated. “I urge the Health Ministry to design a comprehensive national smoking prevention program and present its costs to the committee.”

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the Public Health Division at the Health Ministry, warned of an epidemic of electronic cigarette use. “The risk of a teenager who has tried an electronic cigarette becoming addicted to regular cigarettes is four times higher,” she noted. Alroy-Preis presented survey data showing that nearly 40% of adults in the Arab sector smoke, and among chareidi high school students, the smoking rate is a staggering 54%.

In comparison, the smoking rate in the United States has significantly declined, with about 12.5% of adults currently smoking cigarettes, down from 20.9% in 2005.

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