If anyone out there still has any doubt as to the dangers of smoking, a recent scientific study has proven beyond any doubt that there is a direct link between a toxic chemical in cigarette smoke and the malignant tumors that have caused such an agonizing death for so many.
Yet despite all those warnings, it’s most worrisome to see a thick cloud of smoke hovering above a Bais Medrash. And even though most yeshivos now outlaw smoking within the confines of the Bais Medrash, the number of those who smoke in the corridors is astounding (more so in Israel than in the U.S.A.) Don’t they read the same statistics we do? Have their rebbayim so inculcated in them the idea that the world is an “Olam Ha’sheker” that no scientific evidence is to be believed? Or perhaps when they see their own mentors smoke, they are inclined to believe that it can’t be all that bad? Maybe they are convinced that the Torah they learn will protect them and give them long life and good health.
What they need is a strong reminder that one is not permitted to commit suicide! Greater emphasis on the seriousness of “V’nishmartem meod l’nafshosaychem,” and that “chamira sa’kanta may’isura” may help convince them to end this life -threatening habit.
While Joe Camel symbolizes today’s “now” generation and has suckered millions of teenagers into trying their first cigarette, it is a small minority of today’s rebbayim and elders who unfortunately find it too difficult to kick the habit themselves (probably started before the danger was as well proven as it is today), that are responsible for their students’ lax attitude toward taking a puff.
The teachers of our children must not only stop smoking publicly, but must stop doing so even in the privacy of their own homes. All warnings become meaningless when a student sees or even knows that his role model smokes.
A visit to a hospital where they can see the disastrous results of smoking may help set them straight. Until that time, it would be wise for those who bring the wellsprings of life to their talmidim to make them fully cognizant of cigarettes’ terrible danger even at a very young age, much before they even try taking their first puff! An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.