Let us consider the scientific facts (as they appear in vol. 2 of
“Asya,” in the articles written by Dr. Meltzer, Dr. Hershkowitz, and
Prof. Katan) which served as the foundation for the Halakhic ruling
which forbids smoking.
There are three main diseases caused by smoking. The first affects the
lungs directly in the form of bronchitis and deterioration of the
lungs. These sicknesses attack the lungs’ immune system which stands
guard against elements which are dangerous to the body and they affect
the lungs’ ability to receive oxygen. In most cases, such ailments
damage an individual’s physical fitness and operational capacity,
while in rare instances they may even lead to death.
The second type of disease that may be caused by smoking is heart
disease: On the average, one in every four people who die from heart
disease received it as a result of smoking.
The third category is that of cancer. Comprehensive studies show that
smoking is the major environmental cause of cancer. The chances that a
man who smokes will contract cancer are twice as great as a man who
does not smoke. Smoking leads generally to lung cancer, to the point
that among smokers the rate of lung cancer is seven times higher than
among non-smokers. According to statistical calculations, then, we
find that more than 500 people die each year from lung cancer as a
result of smoking.
In summary, the death rate is much higher among smokers than among non-
smokers. For example, in a massive study carried out by American
insurance companies, it was discovered that the death rate of smokers
up to the age of forty-five is 80% higher than the death rate of non-
smokers of the same age group, while the death rate of smokers up to
the age of sixty is 125% higher than the death rate of non-smokers
belonging to the same age group.
In an interesting study carried out by one insurance company, it was
discovered that even the rate of traffic accidents for smokers is
higher than that of non-smokers. 6.59% smokers were involved in such
accidents while the rate among non-smokers was only 3.75%. The reason
for this difference is that smoking affects the hemoglobin, lessening
the amount of oxygen in the blood, which in turn damages the driver’s
concentration and judgment.
As a result of these studies many insurance companies raised the
prices of smokers’ policies.
At any rate, as concerns our discussion, as a result of these studies,
it was ruled that smoking is a severe violation of the Torah law.