According to the initial findings of a recent Health Ministry study that was conducted using urine tests, some 40% of the children in Israel are exposed to second-hand smoking, and a third of their parents are aware of this.

The findings prompted the Special Committee for Dealing With Drugs and Alcohol to hold an impromptu meeting on Thursday.

“These are very severe findings,” Chief Toxicologist of Environmental Health in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Tamar Berman, told the committee. “Smoking by parents and other family members is a significant source of exposure to toxic lead among children and teenagers.”

Committee Chairwoman Michal Wunsh berated the Tax Authority’s representative at the meeting over the failure to advance the plan to tax electronic cigarettes. “The market is breached, and teenagers continue to get addicted and hurt. While we are delaying the process, the tobacco companies are not stagnating.”

“During the corona period, the addictive tendencies among teenagers are more forceful. There is an increase in the use of electronic cigarettes and hookahs, and the likelihood of getting infected with the coronavirus increases when they are passed from mouth to mouth. There is no enforcement when it comes to the sale of cigarettes to minors. On average, there are 8.7 cigarette selling points within a 1,000-meter radius of schools,” Wunsh said.

The committee pledged to set up a “well-budgeted” body that will oversee all the addiction-related issues and integrate the dissemination of information, education, identification, treatment and accompaniment of teenagers and their parents.