Smoke shops in the city of Tel Aviv have a new lease on life after years of decline, and are being used by thousands of young people as a way to find affordable alternatives to cigarettes.
The number of shops opened to sell smoking paraphernalia and other tobacco products has increased by nearly half since 2015, according to data compiled by the Jerusalem Post and the Hebrew University.
The shops also offer a way for young people to start their own business.
The first shop opened in May 2017 in the trendy Tel Aviv neighborhood of Jaffa, and since then more than 1,200 outlets have opened.
In recent months, several more have opened, and some of them, like the one in Jaffah, have even started offering e-cigarette products.
The Israeli Tobacco Association said the number of smoking shops in Israel has more than tripled in the last three years, from just over 20 in 2014 to almost 300 in 2016.
At a recent conference, the association’s president, Shlomo Zalman, said the new shops represent the start of a new phase in Tel Aviv’s smoking-free lifestyle.
The new shops come as a result of an initiative called “Tel Aviv to Smoke Free” launched by the municipality and supported by the Israeli Health Ministry, according on its website.
It also aims to encourage residents to smoke less, and to encourage people to buy tobacco products from shops.
The city of Jiffa, which is the second-most populous municipality in Israel, is home to more than half a million people, and the population is growing.
It’s a city that has always been known for its smoke shops.
“I think that Tel Aviv has always had smoke shops,” said Zalmans son, Benjamin.
“It’s the only place in Israel where it’s okay to smoke and not be sick.”
Zalmen said that the city has been trying to increase the number and popularity of shops that sell tobacco products, but that it hasn’t been able to keep up with demand.
“We’re getting a lot of people coming here to buy products that they would not normally buy in other parts of Israel,” he said.
“But they don’t buy as much as they used to.
“The number of people who are smoking in the state is growing, and we want to support this, but the government is not making any efforts to increase sales.””
This is a new chapter in Tel Israel’s history,” Zalaman added.
“The number of people who are smoking in the state is growing, and we want to support this, but the government is not making any efforts to increase sales.”