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No more smokes with your espressoby michael • November 01 2007
For better or worse, Israel always has been a country to hop onto an international trend bandwagon - especially if it was preceded by that mythical land of wide open spaces, gold-paved streets and clearly defined borders known as "America." Whether it was Arik Einstein and posse affecting the tuned-in-and-turned-on pose of the hippies in the late '60s or an entire audience awkwardly clapping along with those enthusiastic young gentlemen from "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" in 1984, or any year's entry in Eurovision for that matter, there's nothing that's received the approval of the Western world that at least some Israelis aren't eager to try out.
Even smoking bans.
After the phenomenon of banning smoking outright in all business establishments and public spaces caught on from California (no surprise) to Ireland (what?), the Knesset felt the need to prove that it too was a Real Government and quickly and unanimously approved a comprehensive public smoking ban during the summer, a ban which is just now going into effect.
The ban stipulates that public property owners who do not prevent smokers from lighting up will be hit with a 5000 NIS (1200 USD) fine, which can, upon repeat violations, be raised all the way up to 67500 NIS (16000 USD), a magical, pixie-dust-studded fantasy number transmitted to the Knesset by the enchanted leprechauns living in the wainscoting. Additional fines will be levied for failure to put up the required number of No Smoking signs and property owners will be expected to cough up 1290 NIS (300 USD) for each ashtray they make the mistake of leaving in a public area. As we all agree, cigarette butts belong on the streets and sidewalks, not in ashtrays of privately-owned establishments. Smokers themselves who befoul the atmosphere at a public establishment can be slapped with 1000 NIS tickets.
But what does this mean for Jerusalem, other than that the air will again be "tzalul ka'yayin"? It means that Coffee Shop, a Jerusalem coffee chain long known as a smoker's haven (the non-smoking section was in the basement, while the smoking sections was upstairs at street level), is going smoke-free. All six of its branches are now smokeless, and to apologize to disappointed smokers Coffee Shop is offering a free espresso to smokers for the duration of the coming month. All you have to do is flash your pack of cigs as evidence. Who said smoking never gets you anything?
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