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December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

Mother Smokes Cigarettes and Baby Swallows Them

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Israel provides new proof that cigarette smoking has a bad effect on children.

A woman took her baby, age 18 months, to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa  Saturday night after the toddler chewed up and swallowed two cigarettes.

The mother had left the room and left a package of cigarettes on the table. When she returned, she discovered two filters on the table.

The doctors examined the baby to make sure there were no ill effects from the nicotine, and the baby was released from the hospital after several hours.

“Chewing tobacco can cause vomiting, changes in blood pressure, rapid pulse, incapacitation and even death, said Prof. Yedidya Bentor of the Rambam Institute on Poison. He said eating cigarettes by children is not common.

It is not known if the mother decided to give up smoking following the incident.

False Advertising, Jewish Morality and the Tobacco Industry

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Advertising and marketing are everywhere we look: on billboards and blimps, on television and film, in our newspapers and magazines, on the food boxes we eat from, even on the clothes we wear. This is a far cry from our society 50 years ago – have you ever seen an old film or television show with product placement? These advertisements often increase and shift our desire and even tell us how we might feel and act. Consumer behavior shifts based not on personal needs, economic considerations, or ethical concerns, but on the power of gimmicks and social branding.

For better or worse, the United States has become the advertising capital of the world. Total U.S. advertising expenditures reached nearly $140 billion in 2012, more than a quarter of world advertising expenditures. These can range from the sponsorship of valuable cultural activities or messages urging a more healthful living style to deceptive ads from businesses that endlessly claim to be going out of business and holding one final sale.

One example of an industry full of deceptive advertising is big tobacco, which promotes one of the most addictive and life-threatening substances known to humanity. From top to bottom, it issues false propaganda. For example, in 1994, executives of seven tobacco companies testified before Congress and lied by saying that smoking tobacco was not addictive. Significantly, however, when pressed, the executives added that they hoped that their children would not become smokers.

Tobacco advertisers have proven extraordinarily resilient and successful in promoting their products. While tobacco ads have been banned from radio and television for more than a generation, they have discovered other ways to advertise. They have learned to increase their messaging through sponsoring sports and social events where people cannot avoid exposure to their logos. In addition, cigarette companies target specific populations using various tactics:

Fortunately, society can take steps against such harmful advertisements and promotions, and we can resist false messages. We no longer have to contend with smoke-filled restaurants and theaters, or feel obligated to have ashtrays in our home ready for anyone who chooses to come in and smoke at will. Also, the percentage of American smokers has declined from about 42 percent in 1965 to 19 percent in 2011. In addition, the federal government passed legislation in 2009 that empowered the FDA to regulate tobacco products and gave states the right to restrict cigarette advertising and promotion through means such as restricting the time and place where these activities could occur. Thus far, 20 states now restrict or prohibit places where free tobacco samples can be distributed. Still, today nearly 44 million Americans smoke tobacco, and in 2011 cigarette companies spent $8.37 billion on advertising and promotional activities in the United States. Advertising has the power to persuade, and to deceive.

As religious Jews, one pertinent question about advertising and its relationship to deception and promoting harmful decisions and habits is, what is halacha’s view of this?

In “The Impact of Jewish Values on Marketing and Business Practices,” Hershey Friedman, a professor at Brooklyn College, argues that while Jewish law may not explicitly forbid the influencing of consumers, it clearly violates the spirit of the law. (Specifically, it is geneivat data, deception, which is a Biblical prohibition).

The Talmud (Chullin 94a) gives an example of how business must not include any deception, towards Jews or non-Jews: “A person should not sell shoes made of the leather of an animal that died of natural causes (which is inherently weaker) under the pretense that it was made from the leather of an animal that was slaughtered.” The Shulchan Aruch bring this as halachah (CM 228:6).

Businesses need to compete, and advertising is the norm in commercial life. It is not an option to stop advertising. Further, Jewish law does embrace the notion that a reasonable person’s expectation can be assumed. One Talmudic passage gives an example:

Mar Zutra was once going from Sikara to Mahoza, while Rava and R. Safra were going to Sikara; and they met on the way. Believing that they had come to meet him, he said, “Why did you take the trouble to come so far to meet me?” R. Safra replied, “We did not know that you were coming; had we known, we would have done more than this.” Rava said to him, “Why did you say that to him? Now you have upset him.” He replied, “But we would be deceiving him otherwise.” “No, he would be deceiving himself” (Chullin 94b).

Rav Safra argues that one may not gain from the false perception of another. Rather one must proactively correct that misunderstanding to ensure an unfair moral debt is not created. Rava, on the other hand, believes there is responsibility from the other not to be self-deceived. Aaron Levine, author of “Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics,” explains that one must not only avoid wrong but proactively assure consumers of the truth. “The seller’s disclosure obligation consists not only of a duty not to mislead in an affirmative manner but also of a requirement to disabuse the customer of his reasonable misperception about the product.”

We see from these sources that Jewish law demands that we be extremely cautious in protecting and promoting the truth. We should take note of and observe these principles in our daily interactions with our fellows on the street, in the beit midrash, in workplace, and in the voting booth and when we talk about creating regulations for advertising.

Israel’s Tax Hikes Help Cure Smoking and Drinking

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Finance Minister Yair Lapid raised taxes – again – on cigarettes and alcohol in July, and there already is a change in consumption habits of Israelis, according to a marketing report cited by Globes.

The survey showed that 44 percent of those drink alcohol have reduced their intake, while 60 percent of smokers puff less. The C.A. Marketing Information Institute said that its survey covered a month before the tax hikes took effect and a month afterwards.

The liquor tax hike upped the price of Arak by more than 20 percent, with the tax increases focusing on drinks like Arak, which have a high level of alcohol.

The cigarette tax rose by 18 percent.

The bill for alcohol dropped by more than 20 percent, to an average of less than $40 per person. More significantly, the number of drinkers who said they kicked the habit rose from 17 percent before the reform to 29 percent afterwards.

Five percent of the Israelis Jews told the market survey that they stopped smoking after the tax hike, and one-third said they smoked fewer cigarettes.

The big drawback for Lapid is that he may have killed the goose that has laid the golden egg of reliable tax revenues, but it is worth cost by improving Israel’s health and longevity. Two long-term benefits might be less expenditures on health care and higher productivity at work, as well as a better family life.

Kosher for Passover Cigarettes for the Jew Who Has ‘Everything’

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

A group of Israel Haredi rabbis for the first time have placed cigarettes on the list of Passover goodies that need a special “kosher” certification, while the Chief Rabbinate blew smoke on the idea, declaring that poison is never kosher.

Every Jew, and many non-Jews, know that Jews may not eat anything on Passover that might have ingredients of grains that could ferment and be considered leavened. Ashkenazi Jews have an added restriction on consuming anything that contains “kitniyot” vegetables such as peas and corn.

Every year, many Jews come up with all sorts of a “humras” – a stringency. One authority forbids using balloons on Passover because they might have been coated with a material that is considered kitniyot.

Some Haredi Jews several years banned drinking water on Passover that comes from the Kinneret because someone may have dropped a piece of bread in the lake, or God forbid, a fisherman used bread as bait that fell apart in the water before a fish could grab it.

Two weeks, we reported that there is an argument between Rabbinic groups in the United States over quinoa, which is not a grain. One group of rabbis claims that winds in some South Americana field, where quinoa is grown, might blow a barley seed into a field of quinoa, and that single seed might not be sighted in packaging, leaving the quinoa not kosher.

And then there is the case of Jerusalem Haredim who rent out laundered “shrteimel” hats during Pesach because, who knows, maybe a crumb was stuck in somebody’s fur hat.

But cigarettes?

Leave it to the group of Beit Yosef rabbis to add it to their list of certified products, for which, of course, there is a fee for the label for three local cigarette brands.

A spokesman for Israel’s chief rabbinate responded, “Poison is not kosher. For all days of the year, not just Passover.”

Beit Yosef justified the kosher for a Passover label, using the old “when in doubt, be stringent,” argument.

Its chief supervisor Rabbi Yigal Ben Ezra explained that the kosher for Passover label is for a number of Israeli Haredim who won’t buy any products that are not labeled “Kosher for Passover.”

He said the British rabbis inspected the Dubek cigarette factory and determined that no leavened bread came in contact with the cigarettes, which must go down as one of the great non-discoveries of the year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/kosher-for-passover-cigarettes-for-the-jew-who-has-everything/2013/03/28/

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