Although recent years have seen a drop in the number of ultra-Orthodox smokers and a rise in the sector’s awareness of the dangers of smoking, the percentage of smokers in the haredi society is believed to be relatively high compared to the general population in Israel.
According to Yaakov Solomon, a haredi smoking cessation instructor from Beitar Illit, becoming addicted to cigarettes is very easy in the haredi society.
“Haredi women don’t smoke at all, but with men it’s a different story. A haredi child won’t smoke at the Talmud Torah (elementary school age) of course, except maybe on Purim. Also in the ages of the small yeshiva (the equivalent of high school), smoking cases are rare. There is very tight supervision, and it’s not seen favorably. But the moment one moves on to a big yeshiva – it’s a different story.
“In general, haredi adolescents don’t have many rebellion options. The clothes are black and white, mitzvot are mitzvot, offenses are offenses. Cigarettes are still in the gray area in which youth can go against the flow, without violating religious and social rules. It’s a small expression of independence that is still available to them,” Salomon says.
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