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Tobacco legislation reform and industry response in Israel
  1. Yael Bar-Zeev1,
  2. Carla J Berg2,
  3. Shira Kislev3,
  4. Haim Haspil Geva4,
  5. Elad Godinger5,
  6. Lorien Abroms2,
  7. Hagai Levine1
  1. 1 Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Hadassah Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Israel
  2. 2 Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  3. 3 Smoke Free Israel, Ramat-Razial, Israel
  4. 4 Tobacco Control Unit, Public Health Services, Israel Ministry of Health, Jerusalem, Israel
  5. 5 Public Policy Unit, Israeli Medical Association, Ramat Gan, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yael Bar-Zeev, Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Hadassah Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Israel;{at}

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New progressive tobacco control legislation in Israel restricted advertising of all tobacco and related products, including heated tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. The three main elements comprised: (1) advertising bans in all media, including broadcast, outdoor, internet and print media, but excluding newspapers (effective March 2019); (2) bans on point-of-sale displays except in specialised tobacco and alcohol outlets (effective January 2020); and (3) plain packaging (effective January 2020).1–3 During the initial implementation phase, an active tobacco control coalition communicated via social media (‘WhatsApp’) regarding tobacco industry tactics to bypass legislative efforts, test the limits of the legislation and/or test the government’s ability to enforce the legislation. The coalition included civil society and professional organisations from a wide range of disciplines, including public health, medicine, public policy, public administration and communications.3 Table 1 provides a detailed account of the policies, industry reactions and lessons learnt (also see figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1

(A) Branded elements appeared in the background of the print media advertisements (red circles); January 2020. (B) When the inclusion of the small branded elements was not met with a response, the industry included the full size previous packaging in the background; March 2020. (C) Colours and fonts not allowed to be used in plain packaging, were used in print media advertisement to differentiate and overcome the plain packaging.

Figure 2

(A) Before the legislation. (B) In transition—plain packaging appearing in the market, but products are visible at point-of-sale. (C) After the legislation went into effect. Note - (1) …

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  • Contributors HL, CJB, LA and YB-Z conceived the idea for the manuscript. YB-Z, SK, HHG, EG and HL collected the data. YB-Z wrote the manuscript with all other authors contributing. All authors reviewed and authorised the final version submitted.

  • Funding This research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (R01CA239178-01A1; MPIs: CJB, HL). Dr Berg is also supported by the National Cancer Institute (R01CA215155-01A1; PI: CJB; R01CA179422-01; PI: CJB), the US Fogarty International Center/National Cancer Institute (1R01TW010664-01; MPIs: CJB, Kegler), and Fogarty/NIEHS (D43ES030927-01; MPIs: CJB, Marsit, Sturua).

  • Competing interests YB-Z has received fees for lectures from Pfizer Israel Ltd, Novartis NCH and GSK Consumer Health (distributors of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy in Israel) in the past (2012-07/2019). HL had received fees for lectures from Pfizer Israel Ltd (distributor of a smoking cessation pharmacotherapy in Israel) in 2017. LA receives royalties for the sale of Text2Quit and is a shareholder in Welltok, Inc.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.