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Israel curbs public smoking

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Israel moved to better enforce a ban on smoking in public places.

A new law went into effect Wednesday ratcheting up municipal fines that can be imposed on those who defy a long-standing, though inconsistently observed, ban on smoking in closed public premises such as restaurants and malls.

In such cases, the smoker can now be fined $250, while the owner of the premises in question is liable for a $1,250 to $17,000 fine.

Exacting such penalties is up to municipal inspectors, who have less legal clout than police. After the new law went into effect, Israeli media reported little noticeable change in smoking patterns at popular Tel Aviv eateries, though polls suggest one in 10 smokers would now consider quitting.

Approximately one in four Israeli adults smoke, a relatively high rate by Western standards.

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