The Israel Airports Authority was denounced on Wednesday by public health groups for reinstating “smoking rooms” at Ben-Gurion Airport after they were barred three years ago and the Health Ministry for “doing nothing except for issuing statements” against it.
The authority claimed on Channel 12 News that because smokers lit up secretly and illegally in restrooms before their flights, they had to set up smoking rooms in Terminal 3.
A successful class-action suit by Amos Hausner, the chairman of the Israel Council for the Prevention of Smoking, and lawyer Omer Feintoch forced the closing of the smoking areas three years ago, but now the Airports Authority has ignored it.
“We were astounded by the news and are considering the appropriate legal action,” Hausner told The Jerusalem Post.
The Airports Authority could have continued to bar the smoking rooms and installed sensors and smoke alarms in all the restrooms to catch violators and fine them. Nearly all US airports and many of the world’s busiest airports are completely smoke-free.
Health groups warn against smoking
The Israel Association of Public Health Physicians, the Medical Society for Smoking Prevention and Cessation, and the Israel Medical Association protested, saying that “Smoking rooms kill. Their return is an unfortunate decision that reflects the retreat in the fight against the toxic harm of smoking, which stems from a lack of political commitment to public health.”
They added that the Health Ministry’s and other ministries’ “Failure to protect the public from the tobacco industry and its damage is costing lives. Of the 8,000 Israelis who die in an average year from tobacco, about 800 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. It has been proven