Vaping in Israel

the story of the little community that could

Vaping in Israel

the story of the little community that could
Hi everyone. This article won't have any useful advice, news, or reviews. Instead, we prepared a research on how vape culture is doing in Israel. You may think that this information is boring and unimportant to you, but believe us when we say that the Coen brothers could make a movie out of it. Know what we mean?


Though it may seem strange, this telling of the history of vaping in the Holy Land should start with the hookah. Do you instantly imagine dark-skinned men in traditional clothes with a hookah?

The tradition of hookah smoking in the Middle East has a long and rich history. If you take a stroll down the evening squares of any city in Israel, you will easily spot small groups of young people smoking a hookah. The next morning some of these people will go to their offices to design and program, which is also a vivid characteristic of this country. Modern-day Israel is one of the world's largest exporters of high technology. Thus we get a high-tech western-oriented country with a long history of smoking. It would seem like you can't imagine an environment more perfect for the development of vaping. But no such luck, friends.

There's another characteristic trait of Israel that is worth mentioning — the highly developed health care. The Israeli Ministry of Health, like the whole country, draws inspiration from America in many of its procedures and views. This has affected anti-smoking regulations as well. Smoking is present in almost all medical questionnaires, and when you come to your doctor with a migraine or malaise, the first question you often hear is: "Have you quit smoking already?"


The first devices appeared in Israel around the same time as everywhere else: at the junction of the 00s and 10s of the 21st century, and were positioned solely as another way to get rid of nicotine addiction. They didn't create a revolution among smokers. Vaping culture development was sluggish and in general wasn't anything special.

Almost from the very beginning, the Ministry of Health of Israel decided to take control of the electronic cigarette market (the term "vaping" is still much less popular among vaping Israelis than just "electronic cigarettes"). And by "take control" we mean "ban completely". At the legislative level. Starting with an official warning about the dangers of vaping back in 2009, the ministry assembled a commission and published a study which talked about the inconclusive influence of vaping. It was equated to medicines, thus putting vaping under the ministry's complete control. Which resulted in a complete ban on import, manufacture, and sale until lack of harm to humans was proven.


In 2012, the Israeli import company AI-SIG filed an official request to the ministry, asking to clarify or revise its reasons for the ban on import of vaping devices and liquids. And was rejected. Twice. But David was not afraid of Goliath and appealed to the Supreme Court. The lawsuit lasted three years up until 2015, when the Supreme Judge decided that the Ministry of Health had exceeded its authority and overrode all bans.

Once a young shepherd named David fearlessly defeated the 3 meter tall Goliath with a stone and a sling. It took AI-SIG three years and much more effort. There are different kinds of stories in the world.

When the story of the official proceedings with the Ministry of Health was over, the vaping market began to develop more confidently. In 2013 there were three small liquid manufacturers in the whole country, whereas now there's dozens. And the number of vape - shops has increased threefold in the last year alone. But growth is still happening slower than it could be.
The vaping market in Israel is stable, but it is developing very slowly. It is equated to tobacco products and therefore cannot be mass advertised. There is no law which prohibits vaping in public places or selling to minors, but knowing that we are under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Health and tobacco company lobbyists, many don't sell their products to minors and advise everyone to follow the smoking and vaping laws, so as not to cause negative reactions, especially in the media. There's enough problems with customs as well, but we all do our best in the currently given conditions.
Leonid Stolpinski
Despite the ministry's attacks in the form of advertising campaigns, media publications, discussions on the radio and television, as well as attempts to restrict distribution through legislative means, vapers in Israel have an optimistic view of things. Although they do understand that the culture of vaping in their country lags behind others.
Over the past year there have been several global gatherings. Vape expo was the most recent one. Of course it's no match for Russian expos, but for a first time it was pretty good. The tobacco lobby spreads horror stories about vaping. The most common one is the "fluid in lungs" tale. There have been articles in the yellow press, even the TV news harassed us a couple times, but mostly it all was along the lines of "We don't know what's in there, what if it's harmful, what if it's worse than the analog, but no one has tested them, and they explode, too...". There's no ban on vaping in public, but our people try not to cross the line. People are literally creeped out by DL vapers on the streets, it's just not as popular around here yet.
Shlomi Kalika
Advanced vaper

In general, the situation with vaping in Israel is like everywhere else: not without complications. It just has its own color. But the culture keeps (or rather, begins) developing and growing. The amount of information increases. People organize and create demand, which naturally has a beneficial effect on supply.
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