The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Passive smoking

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Last night the House of Commons voted to ban smoking in public places including all pubs, clubs and restaurants.  In effect, while smoking tobacco remains lawful in the United Kingdom, we are moving towards a position in which to expose others to what it is known as passive smoking is unlawful.
The rabbis once thought that smoking was good for you (Pnei Yehoshua Shabbos 39b).  Even since everyone has known that it is harmful, the rabbis have consistently refused, for sound reasons, to declare a general prohibition against smoking by those already addicted (Igros Moshe Yoreh Deoh 2:49 and Choshen Mishpot 2:76), although they have consistently decalred it forbidden to begin to acquire the habit.
The halachic line on passive smoking is, in the state of medical evidence available today, absolutely clear.  Even if there remains some room for a person to choose to continue to expose himself or herself to the certain harm that results from smoking, there are no possible grounds on which I can choose to inflict harm on someone else.  Since even in small measures there is actual and quantifiable harm caused by inhaling tobacco smoke, it is forbidden to expose a non-smoker to smoke.
At least one rosh yeshivah of world-wide fame moved several years ago to ban smoking from his beis midrash (Harav Moshe Sternbuch, Teshuvos v’Hanhagos 1:159).
If in any community smoking is openly tolerated, and youngsters are permitted or even encouraged to acquire the habit, one can be certain by this that the community in question does not conduct itself entirely in accordance with the laws and principles of the Torah, whatever other appearances may be to the contrary and whatever other merits and virtues the commnunity may have.


Written by Daniel Greenberg

February 15, 2006 at 11:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] a comment » The last post, Passive Smoking, attracted some interesting questions and comments (by email), including one asking whether the […]

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