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No more smokers at the Western Wall

    Smoking is set to be banned at the Western Wall and other communal spots in Israel after the country's legislators approved new rules on lighting up in public.

    The legislation, which includes stricter rules on cigarette machines and advertising, as well as a ban on smoking at bus and train stations, was backed by the Knesset health committee.

    The new rules mean that after a 30 - day window Israelis will be unable to smoke in public places including concert venues, swimming pools and near hospital entrances, while smokers will be designated no more than 25 per cent of the room in bars and restaurants.

    Bus drivers will be prevented from smoking before passengers board their vehicle. But the committee did not back a proposal for a ten per cent increase in cigarette taxes. The proposals were criticised as unenforceable and problematic for restaurant owners.

    A report released by the health ministry showed that nearly a third of Israeli men and 15 per cent of women are smokers.

    Chaim Katz, who chairs the health committee, said: "We are significantly reducing the damage of smoking, but we must not exaggerate. There is a smoking public in Israel that we have to serve."

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