Persistent high rates of smoking among Israeli Arab males with concomitant decrease among jews

Orna Baron-Epel, Lital Keinan-Boker, Ruth Weinstein, Tamy Shohat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: During the last few decades much effort has been invested into lowering smoking rates due to its heavy burden on the population's health and on costs for the health care services. Objectives: To compare trends in smoking rates between adult Arab men and Jewish men and women during 2000-2008. Methods: Six random telephone surveys were conducted by the Israel Center for Disease Control in 2000-2008 to investigate smoking rates. The number of respondents was 24,976 Jewish men and women and 2564 Arab men. The percent of respondents reporting being current smokers was calculated for each population group (Jews and Arabs) by age, gender and education, and were studied in relation to time. Results: Among Jewish men aged 21-64 smoking declined during 2000-2008 by about 3.5%. In the 21-44 age group this decline occurred only among respondents with an academic education. Among Jewish women this decline also occurred at ages 21-64, and in the 45-64 age group this decline was due only to a decline in smoking among those with an academic education. Among Arab men aged 21-64 an increase in smoking rates of about 6.5% was observed among both educated and less educated respondents. Conclusions: Smoking prevalence is declining in Israel among Jews, but not among Arab men. The larger decrease in smoking rates among academics will, in the future, add to the inequalities in health between the lower and higher socioeconomic status groups and between Arabs and Jews. This calls for tailored interventions among the less educated Jews and all Arab men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-737
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Arabs
  • Education
  • Jews
  • Smoking
  • Trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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