The Big Felafel

You’re telling me there is a no smoking law in Israel- what did you smoke?

Before I moved to Israel I was forewarned that I might become addicted to cigarettes. My friends informed me that everyone smokes; it is a cultural pastime that is literally addicting.

Turns out I don’t need to even light up a cigarette to smoke a pack a day- instead I just need to hang out in public places and get my free lung cancer from those breaking the law. Like almost everything in Israel, the No Smoking Law is not really enforced. It’s basically a recommendation that people decide not to take.

This “recommendation” or law states that it is illegal to smoke in public places, but I dare you to try and find one building or restaurant that abides by this rule. Now even though the current law is not followed, the so-called law makers are enforcing a new and stricter law as of November 7th.

The law is aimed at all owners of public places to not only inform smoking patrons to put out their cigarettes but to call the municipal complaints number and file a report. I’m sure every smoker reading this is puffing a cigarette to calm their nerves.

I mean who wouldn’t be threatened by the idea of a restaurant owner taking the time from his busy schedule to call the municipality number, and I am sure they pick up after the first ring like all government run offices – file a report against their paying patrons in order to ensure the customer never comes back again. And did I mention that the owner is probably dialing the number with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

The law does state that harsher fines will be given to unlawful restaurants. For example, each ash tray on a table will cost the restaurant NIS 1,000. But again, I have to say, who will actually be enforcing these laws? I think the only cops you’ll find are the ones using the ashtrays as they finish patrolling the area/ having a mid day break after their lunch break and before their coffee break.

The law is more like the lawmakers, a joke with a crappy punch line. And while I plan to inhale and worse reek of cigarettes for the simple joy of eating out once in a while, there are still some who believe in the “fight for your rights”.
Israel’s first-ever class action suit was against the Jerusalem restaurant Foccachetta for breaking the no smoking law- and they actually won. The settlement was for NIS 2.5 million-plus-expenses with a NIS 600 meal voucher to be awarded to those a part of the suit.Foccachetta is now a guaranteed smoke free environment and probably quiet atmosphere since no one will be eating there sans cigarettes; especially after the forced advertisement to be published throughout the country explaining their commitment to the law.

I guess the only real question is why am I writing this post from home when I could be in a café joining the next class action suit, making a difference or better yet making easy money!


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  1. * Dan says:

    Well… i’m sitting now in coffee bean restaurant, in raanana, in the no smoking section, which is nicely insulated from the smoking section.

    both smokers and non smokers frequently frequent this excellent establishment, and everyone is happy… and I’ve never seen an employee smoking.

    | Reply Posted 15 years, 2 months ago
  2. * Molly says:

    That is awesome- maybe Jerusalem should learn a thing or two from Raanana. But the law is still no smoking in any area of the restaurant!

    | Reply Posted 15 years, 2 months ago
  3. * Karin says:

    Seems like a gallant effort but pubs and bars in Tel Aviv are still smoke laden…

    | Reply Posted 14 years, 2 months ago

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