Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Adar 5766 - March 15, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Bnei Brak Launches Purim No-Smoking Campaign for Youth

By A. Cohen

"Many [smokers] began smoking cigarettes on Purim under the guise of simchah but afterwards they were unable to quit," reads a notice to parents that the Bnei Brak Municipality posted around the city as part of a major campaign to prevent smoking among youth.

City Secretary and Spokesman Rabbi Avrohom Tannenbaum said that the campaign was planned for Adar since many young people take the liberty of smoking their first cigarette on or around Purim, not realizing that a single cigarette can lead to addiction.

"Gedolei Yisroel are Against Smoking," reads the headline of the posters, citing a number of quotes from gedolei Yisroel both past and present. According to the Chofetz Chaim, smoking cigarettes harms the body as well as the soul through bitul Torah, causing damage to one's health, finances and mitzvas, and smokers harm themselves and transgress venishmartem lenafshoseichem.

The Chazon Ish determined that smoking tobacco harms one's breathing and clogs the lungs and therefore should be abandoned. HaRav Ben-Tzion Abba Shaul urged young men to avoid smoking and said according to physicians smoking poses a health hazard and ruled that smokers must leave the room if people who are sensitive to cigarette smoke are present.

A notice signed by Maran HaRav Eliashiv, HaRav Shteinman, HaRav Lefkowitz, HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira, HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Shmuel Auerbach urges young men, "Please do not harm yourself and your surroundings and do not accustom yourself to this, for our holy Torah is a book of life — vechai bohem — and Hashem wants everyone to preserve his health so we can serve Him. Therefore he who can prevent himself and others from smoking must do so and he who is already accustomed to [smoking] must try hard to quit, and definitely must refrain from smoking in places where others are present."

Citing the Rambam (Hilchos Rotzei'ach Ushmiras Hanefesh) and the Chasam Sofer, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner rules that it is clearly forbidden to start smoking at a young age and parents and educators are obligated to prevent youths from starting. Those who are already addicted, says HaRav Wosner, should try to quit gradually and definitely should not smoke in public. Therefore anyone who can refrain from helping smokers is obligated to do so.


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