Israel as a role model in tobacco policy
Though smoking in public places in Israel is still prevalent, it would seem that our tobacco policy is still something to be proud of.
At the first American Cancer Society Global Fellowship, which is now underway in New York City, experts are saying that Israel is a “role model” in the Middle East for its anti-tobacco advocacy.
“The Middle East is one of the biggest problems in the world. It is one of the few places in the world where smoking rates are going up,” Dr. Michael Eriksen, founding director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University told ISRAEL21c. “Israel is in the unique role to serve as an exemplar. Just because you’re in this part of the world it doesn’t mean smoking rates have to go up. Israel can serve as a model for countries in the region.”
Indeed, the percentage of Israeli smokers is on the downturn.
Miri Ziv, director-general of the Israel Cancer Association who is also in New York City, says that in the 1980s, 45 percent of Israelis smoked. Today, 22% of the population lights up.
“The ICA was among the first 10 counties to pass a law prohibiting smoking in public places,” Ziv told ISRAEL21c.
Ziv added that together with education awareness and media coverage the numbers of smokers in Israel has declined, though there is still work to do.
Tobacco is just one of the topics at the ACS meeting meant to bring attention to the global threat posed by cancer and non-communicable diseases.
And while Israeli research and innovations in cancer are talked about favorably at this conference, it is the fight against smoking that is seen as an example. Said Eriksen: “Israel has the potential to be a force of good in a region going the wrong way.”