TEL AVIV (Apr. 11)
A survey just released by the Health Ministry gives Israel the dubious distinction of having more compulsive smokers per capita than most countries, a large proportion of them teenagers and young adults.
According to the survey, at a time when other developed countries report a 60-75 percent decline in cigarette smoking by youths, 30 percent of Israelis between the ages of 13-18 are addicted to smoking and 60 percent of soldiers between 18-21, doing their compul- sory military service, are habitual smokers. The survey also showed that most of the young smokers had tried but failed to give up the habit. About 68 percent expressed a desire to quit. The Health Ministry and the Anti-Smoking League are trying to help them.
Joining other countries in observing International Health Day, the beginning of International Youth Year, the Ministry and the League have set up open telephone lines in the largest cities.
Callers seeking advice on how to stop smoking will be counseled by physicians, psychologists and experts on various techniques to break the habit. There will also be a dietician on hand to advise smokers who fear that if they give up cigarettes they will over-eat in compensation.
The army is participating in the campaign. It has found that young recruits who began smoking before military age enter the army in much poorer physical condition than non-smokers.
Apparently, the strong statistical linkage between heavy smoking and cancer and heart disease, has little impact on the youths. The Anti-Smoking League is trying to combat the virile image used by cigarette advertisers to promote their product among young men. The League is citing recent research which indicates that cigarette smoking is a contributory factor in impotency.