Shocked by the tragic death of a healthy 16-year-old Rehovot youth, Midan Keller, from vaping and the admission of another vaping teen this week– and distressed by the growing use and easy availability of electronic cigarettes to minors – the Health Ministry has finally decided to take action.
Although it has not yet prohibited vaping by children and teens – with strict enforcement – as the Australian government has this week, the ministry said it has established a national team to re-examine its hands-off policy and work together to eradicate the phenomenon. “Vaping is a new and real threat to the health of children, teenagers and adults. We urge parents to be aware of the threat and talk to their children about theissue,” the ministry said.
The team will work together with government ministries, health organizations, anti-smoking groups and others to raise awareness of the damages of these dangerous products.
“Reducing the phenomenon of smoking in general and e-cig use is one of the most important national tasks in the field of public health, and we are committed to the fight against smoking and its consequences,” theministry added. “Given the extent of the phenomenon’s spread, the ministry is examining all possible measures and working in many ways to raise awareness of the dangers of using these products.”
Emergency meeting with Education Ministry
The Health Ministry convened an emergency meeting with representatives of the Education Ministry, the national leadership of parents and the national student council to jointly plan the national campaign. Anyone with questions about electronic cigarettes may call the national smoking-cessation hotline at *6800, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
The Israel Cancer Association (ICA) has launched an awareness campaign on vaping accompanied by lessons in schools. Two videos on the subject appeared on social networks between 2019 and 2022 and received widespread exposure, but in the face of the increasing phenomenon, there is a need for a continuous reminder to the youth and parents, the ICA said.
Association director-general Moshe Bar Haim explained that e-cigs have an innocent and colorful appearance with sweet smells, but they obscure the fact that they are a dangerous product that causes physical andpsychological dependence. In many cases, the youth and also the parents fail to understand that vaping causes significant damage to health, I urge parents to pay attention. This is a clear and immediate danger lurking inmany homes.” He declared that legislation and vigorous enforcement are needed to eradicate the use of electronic cigarettes and other smoking products in Israel.
Dr. David Biton, a physician and senior ICA information officer, added that “we follow the research in the world and are updated on the symptoms and the increase in the risk of morbidity following the use of electronic cigarettes such as cough and shortness of breath nausea, vomiting, risk of asthma, attention problems, hypertension and even genetic changes in the oral cavity and other areas of the body that are known to be associated with cancer. In addition to these, dozens of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations have already been recorded in the world due to serious lung damage caused by the penetration of various harmful substances into the lungs following the smoking of e-cigs, including metal particles – in some cases to the point of lung collapse.”
In preparation for International No-Smoking Day on May 31, the ICA will launch additional and new campaigns on the topic of smoking prevention and especially on the topic of vaping prevention.