A report by the Minister of Health about smoking in 2016 was published today, shedding light on the extent of smoking in Israel among various population groups. The report also addresses the economic aspects of smoking.
According to the report, 22.7% of the population over 18 in Israel smoked in 2016. 31.1% of adult men smoked, compared with 15.8% of adult women. 23.4% of adult Arabs smoked, compared with 22.3% of Jews. 43.9% of Arab men smoked, compared with 27.8% of Jewish men, while only 9.8% of Arab women smoked, compared with 17.7% of Jewish women.
18.0% of those with higher education smoked, compared with 27% of those with little education and 30% of those with medium education. The average age at which smoking began was 18.1 among Jewish men, 19.5 among Jewish women, 19.4 among Arab men, and 25.0 among Arab women.
30.9% of men in Israel smoked, higher than the 25.6% overall average in the EU. 16.0% of women in Israel smoked, lower than the 16.9% EU average.
Smoking has declined among Israeli young people. 8% of students report smoking at least one cigarette a week, compared with 15% in 2002. The proportion of smokers among IDF recruits in 2016 was 24.8% for men and 14.9% for women.
State tax revenues from cigarettes totaled NIS 6 billion
2016 state tax revenues from purchase tax on cigarettes were estimated at NIS 6.03 billion: NIS 5.4 billion from imported cigarettes, NIS 570 million from locally produced cigarettes, and NIS 310 million from taxes on other tobacco products, such as tobacco for water pipes, cigars, etc. An estimated 280 million packs of cigarettes were imported in 2016, and 30 million more packs of cigarettes were produced locally.
The existing tax distortion between loose tobacco and ordinary cigarettes is causing a change in smokers' preferences and a switch to buying packs for roll-your-own cigarettes, instead of efforts to halt or reduce a person's smoking. This situation is causing severe damage to the effectiveness of taxation policy as a tool for reducing smoking and its damage, and for preventing young people from starting to smoke. It is also costing the state treasury over NIS 1 billion a year.
Estimates of the direct and indirect cost of smoking damage to the health system are around NIS 1.7 billion a year. Other indirect costs estimated at NIS 1.9 billion result from lower productivity caused by loss of earning capacity and days off from work because of illness.
In calculating the external effect of using tobacco, it is customary to include the loss of human life caused by passive smoking (818 people a year) and fires at home started by cigarettes (12 people a year). In total, this cost is estimated at NIS 9 billion a year (the external cost calculation does not include 7,247 cases of death caused by active smoking. These costs are defined as internal). The total economic cost of smoking totals NIS 12.85 billion, amounting to 1.49% of GDP.
Cancer Association: Before, we led in legislation on smoking; now, we lag behind
"The figures are very alarming. It is a warning sign to the Israeli government, and it is definitely a matter of life and death," says Israel Cancer Association director general Miri Ziv. "There are proven and effective ways of eliminating the addictive and deadly affliction of smoking, headed by raising taxes and restricting advertising and marketing. This is policy that should already be implemented in Israel, certainly after the 2011 government decision to reduce the damage of smoking, and after Israel signed the international convention in 2003.
"Israel was formerly a leader in legislation on smoking, and we are now lagging behind. After decades of falling smoking rates, when the target was a rate lower than 10% and life without smoking, we have gone back up to over 20% smokers. It is not yet too late. This is the time to pass laws and regulations, and to apply strategies that have proved themselves as effective in New York, California, and many other advanced places. 8,000 people die in Israel a year from the damage of this addictive and fatal habit. Every young person who does not begin, every smoker who stops, is an achievement. This saves lives."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 1, 2017
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