I often see my neighbor driving by, puffing on a cigarette, with the car windows closed and all seven stony-faced children and wife inhaling the poisonous air. His young wife has undergone open-heart surgery twice and two children have asthma. When I asked him once how he could endanger their lives, he blithely answered, “I put on the air conditioner, so the smoke doesn’t affect them. Anyways,” he laughed, “Rav Kaduri, z”l, smoked until he died at age 120. So maybe I’ll live longer if I smoke.” I guess he thought he was being funny.
Most frum people are in total denial about the epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in our society. Their apathy is killing a lot of people. I beg all of you – leaders and teachers in the frum world – to take action!
Let’s start with cigarettes. Smoking is not just a bad habit that is confined to one small part of a person’s life. It presupposes a general attitude of, “I couldn’t care less” and “I don’t take responsibility for my behavior.” Smoking announces the following to the world:
· “I don’t care about my health. I don’t care that each cigarette contains 5,000 different poisons, many of them carcinogenic.
· “I don’t care if the cigarettes destroy my immune system. The immediate pleasure is worth all the pain I might suffer in the future.”
· “We all have to die sometime; I want to enjoy myself until I die.”
· “I don’t care about my wife’s health. I don’t care that women married to smokers have more cancer, especially cervical cancer.”
· “I don’t care about the children’s health. It doesn’t matter that they are likely to suffer from asthma or other chronic health conditions.”
· “The only way I can handle my anxiety is by smoking. I might go crazy or get violent if I stop.”
· “I am impulsive and impatient. I don’t have self-discipline.”
· “I don’t care that I will soon become impotent. All the more reason to smoke! At least it gives me pleasure.”
· “I don’t care about the future. I don’t care if I get throat or lung cancer, or leave my wife a widow.”
· “I don’t care about all the money I waste. My pleasure comes first.”
· “I don’t keep my promises. True I promised to stop, but that was long ago and I didn’t know I’d have to deal with so much stress.”
· “I don’t believe the research showing that smoking is dangerous. Whenever my time is up, it’ll be up – whether I smoke or not.”
· “I don’t like to think about health matters or take responsibility for my health. Let the doctors take responsibility for me.”
· “I don’t care if I wake up hacking and coughing every morning. It’s worth the pleasure I get. I don’t care who might be affected by my habit.”
Before marriage, most smokers tell their prospective brides, “I promise to stop as soon as we are married.” They think that the enjoyment of marriage will offset the pain of stopping the addiction. However, the minute they feel stressed, they reach for a cigarette because their brains are programmed to associate stress-reduction with cigarettes. Furthermore, the minute he is upset with her, he may want to “punish” her by smoking or simply bring pleasure back into his life.
When you marry an addict, the addiction always comes first – before you, the children and life itself. If he doesn’t care about his life, will he care about yours?
No addiction is more difficult to break than the nicotine addiction. However, as with all addictions − including the addiction to junk foods − by learning to handle disappointment and deprivation, we engage in the exciting spiritual journey of self-leadership and self-esteem. I strongly recommend EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to help reprogram the brain and help deal with the feelings of deprivation during the first few days. Also, large doses of vitamin C, vitamin B and 45 minutes of sports can cut down on the cravings.
We need a health revolution in the frum world. Let this year be one in which we all learn to take responsibility for our physical health – as well as our spiritual health.
They are inseparable!
Dr. Miriam Adahan’s new “survival guide” for people in abusive relationships, From Victim To Victor, can be ordered for $15 from the Adahan Fund, 2700 W. Chase, Chicago, Il. 60645, or in Israel at 13/5 Uzrad, Jerusalem, 97277. All contributions and proceeds go to impoverished people in Israel, including terror victims and single mothers. Dr. Adahan can be reached at email@example.com or 972-2-5868201. Visit her website at www.adahanonline.com.