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Correspondence |

Smoking Cessation Counseling in Orthodox Jewish Populations FREE TO VIEW

Jonathan Gotfried, BS
Author and Funding Information

Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY

Correspondence to: Jonathan Gotfried, BS, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave, Box 137, Bronx, NY 10461; e-mail: jgotfried@gmail.com

The author has no conflict of interest to disclose.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


The author has no conflict of interest to disclose.

The author has no conflict of interest to disclose.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/misc/reprints.shtml).


Chest. 2009;135(1):248-249. doi:10.1378/chest.08-2195
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To the Editor:

Smoking among Orthodox Jewish populations in the United States remains high despite increased awareness of its harmful effects and increased rabbinical community-wide edicts forbidding smoking publicly and privately.1 Prominent deciders of Jewish law did not prohibit smoking as recently as the 1980s, citing insufficient scientific evidence that smoking is the direct cause of all of a patient's health problems and in fact may have some salubrious effects.2 However, over the past 2 decades, the increase in medical knowledge proving smoking as harmful and lifethreatening has prompted many in rabbinic circles to prohibit smoking. Regardless, smoking continues in Orthodox populations today, attributable to the lag time between rabbinical edicts and their implementation into the workings of Orthodox Jewish socioreligious society, smokers' reliance on older (and sometimes obsolete) rabbinical edicts permitting smoking, and still present community acceptance of smoking.

Yet, as communities become more aware of the ill effects of smoking and more rabbinic courts issue prohibitions against smoking, a shift against smoking has begun to occur in many Orthodox Jewish communities. Thus, the Orthodox Jewish smokers will find increasing pressure to cease the habit. While this will likely cause a sharp decline in overall smokers, those who have difficulty quitting will be socially and religiously outcast for their defiance of Jewish law and may very likely seek professional help to quit.

Therefore, it is important that a physician counseling Orthodox Jewish patients on smoking cessation be aware of the arguments in Jewish law for and against the permissibility of smoking, especially the recent decisions that prohibit tobacco use.3 Furthermore, physicians should be sensitive to patients attempting to quit as they are aware of both the negative health effects of smoking and its religious prohibition, yet maintain their habit. Lastly, as Judaism places an emphasis on family, the physician should encourage family or group therapy during attempts at smoking cessation and engage in discourse with community leaders to stem negative public attitudes that may emerge against a person still smoking despite its prohibition.

Adler Y, Auman K, Bush A, et al. The prohibition of smoking in Halacha. 2006; 630 Accessed October 31, 2008 Available at:http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Prohibition_Smoking.pdf.
 
Steinberg A. Encyclopedia of Jewish medical ethics. 2003; Jerusalem, Israel Feldheim Publishers:971-975
 
Abraham AS. Nishmat Avraham: medical Halacha for doctors, nurses, health-care personnel, and patients. 2004; New York, NY Artscroll Mesorah:215-217
 

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References

Adler Y, Auman K, Bush A, et al. The prohibition of smoking in Halacha. 2006; 630 Accessed October 31, 2008 Available at:http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Prohibition_Smoking.pdf.
 
Steinberg A. Encyclopedia of Jewish medical ethics. 2003; Jerusalem, Israel Feldheim Publishers:971-975
 
Abraham AS. Nishmat Avraham: medical Halacha for doctors, nurses, health-care personnel, and patients. 2004; New York, NY Artscroll Mesorah:215-217
 
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