JERUSALEM, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Israel is cracking down on public smoking with stiff new legislation coming into effect Wednesday.
According to the new regulations, smoking is prohibited near or at public transportation places, swimming pools, theater shows and outdoor events venues, restaurants, cafes, clubs, synagogues and other places of worship.
Israelis will not be allowed to smoke in work places, except for specifically designated rooms set as "smoking areas."
In restaurants and bars, smoking areas will be designated for no more than a quarter of the total amount of seats. In hospitals, smokers will be forced to light up at least 10 meters away from entrances and doorways.
Those breaking the rules will face a NIS 1,000 (250 U.S. dollars) fine, and the owner of the premises a NIS 5,000 (1300 U.S dollars).
In May, the Knesset (parliament) Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved the amendment.
The Israeli Health Ministry statistics revealed a major decrease in May in the percentage of Israeli smokers over the last twenty years.
In 1995 the percentage of smokers was 35 percent of all Israeli males and 25 percent of females, while in 2011 the percentage dropped to 19.7 percent among males and 15.9 percent among females.
Figures also showed sharp increase in the number of people seeking medical treatment to quit smoking.