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Israel: Heavy Penalty for Violation of Smoking Ban in Public Places

(June 17, 2013) On May 20, 2013, the Supreme Court of Israel approved a plea bargain that included an unprecedented high amount of compensation in a class-action suit for violation of the prohibition on smoking in public places, in accordance with the Prevention of Smoking and Exposure to Smoking Law (5743-1983) (hereinafter Anti-Smoking Law). (CA 2150 Litvik v. Bella Shlomkin (Decision of the Supreme Court, June 6, 2013) [in Hebrew], The State of Israel: The Judicial Authority website; Prevention of Smoking and Exposure to Smoking Law (5743-1983, as amended) [in Hebrew], NEVO LEGAL DATABASE (by subscription).)

The Anti-Smoking Law imposes specific requirements on persons who manage, either as owners or lessees, restaurants, cafes, clubs, discothèques, and other public venues where food and drink are served to prevent patrons from smoking and from being exposed to smoking. The defendant, an operator of a club that serves food and drink, was found by the District Court (Central) in 2011 to have violated the Anti-Smoking Law and was fined NIS90,000 (about US$25,000), plus lawyers’ fees. (File 4398-09-08 Litvik v. Bella Shlomkin [in Hebrew], TAKDIN LEGAL DATABASE (by subscription).)

In an appeal of the district court decision, the Supreme Court approved an increase of the fine to NIS1,160,000, “based on the calculation of the number of people exposed to secondhand smoke – 1,160 – multiplied by the compensation of NIS1,000 for each.” (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Court Orders 10-Fold Increase in Smoking Compensation,THE JERUSALEM POST (June 7, 2013).) The money was reportedly going to be used by the Israeli War Against Cancer Association to expand “its broad activities against tobacco, which is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in Israel.” (Id.)