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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Make the Parents (Of the Smokers) Fund It!

I caught this story on Yeshiva World News about a program in the works to help bochurim quit smoking. The article states "Anecdotal evidence suggests that in certain well-known yeshivot, a majority, or close to a majority, of young men use cigarettes." I believe it. I've seen it, I've smelled it, and I've breathed it. And not too long ago I got so fed up I pulled a local administrator aside and told him the (often pregnant) mothers in the neighborhood were tired of having their children subjected to the images of smoking bochurim, to say nothing of the pollutants.

I've already written about smoking on this blog and the importance of preventative programs and making it socially unacceptable. I support preventative education and believe that these should be mainstays of a well-rounded health and physical education program.

It appears that some very well known figures in the community, Rabbis and physicians, are working on some sort of smoking cessation program, for which I applaud them. They state "it would be premature to offer too many details while funding is sought from various sources," and they hope to role out the program "in several [New York] yeshivot in time for the Elul zman (semester), with its intense focus on Teshuvah and personal improvement.

I wish them much success with an endeavor that is quite literally life or death. However, I say let the parents (of the smokers) pay for it!

This might be highly controversial (your comments will be the anecdotal evidence), but I see no reason to seek funds from anyone besides the parents of the smokers. Either directly or indirectly, these parents provided the funds for their children to get started and built their cigarette smoking habit.

The medications and therapies needed to help them quit might not be cheap, but they are a bargain in comparison to allowing a child continue smoking, a disgusting habit that can cost several thousands of dollars a year (cigarettes + increased price of private health insurance + increase price of life insurance). Getting your own child to quit smoking is an investment in their physical future and their financial future. (I imagine the argument for having the community fund the program is that it will free up tuition dollars that are currently be inhaled).

If I were in charge of a yeshiva implementing this program, I'd just add the smoking cessation fee right onto the bill alongside the activity fee and the book fee. The parents whose kids smoke pay and the parents whose kids don't smoke get a little "discount." But that is just me.

Fire away, but don't light up!


Ezzie said...

...or any yeshivos which allow it/turn a blind eye to it can pay. Often, they are far more aware of the problem than the parents.

My HS had a very strict, clear policy: First time caught was a one or two-week suspension, next time much longer. As most kids were from "out of town", that meant facing your parents' wrath for a long period of time.

Only a handful of my class smoked at all, and then, barely ever. Of course, a few still haven't grown out of this social smoking, but at least it is only that handful and not the majority I've seen elsewhere.

aishel said...

I'm not sure if I agree that the parents should fund it. I was brought up in a way that smoking was bad that it was completely unacceptable. I have never smoked a single cigarette, even "for fun" or on Purim. Why should my parents have to pay up for other people's parenting mistakes?

SephardiLady said...

I added some words just in case clarification was needed.

Chaims's parents paid for Chaim's cigarettes. Chaim's parents should pay for the therapies that Chaim now needs to beat his addiction. (Of course, Chaim's parents might not have a clue where the money they give Chaim is going, in which case they should find out).

Aishel's parents should not have to pick up the responsibility and neither should the rest of the tuition payers or the community (either way, if you fundraise for this cause, another cause for school A will be funded less).

DAG said...

I tried to implement a nationwide anti-yeshiva smoking campaign. My boss didn't allow it.

"The Great Yeshiva Smoke Out", replete with prizes for not smoking at all during the year (incl purim and Simchas Torah) and a grand smoke out BBQ on Lag Boemer.

Chaim B. said...

My guess is that the funding issue comes into play for parents who would sincerely like to help their kids but cannot afford the program, which I imagine may not be covered by health insurance.
Given that yeshiva students for the most part do not work, where do they get the $ to pay for cigarettes from?

Scraps said...

I agree with a lot of people's points. I think that the parents of smokers should have to contribute to the funding of the anti-smoking program (or better yet, make their kids get summer jobs and give their own money!), but it's not only the parents who are responsible. Often, parents themselves will be vehemently anti-smoking, but the boys go away for school and start smoking there when their no longer under their parents' guidance and influence. So the schools should have to match funds or something like that, IMO.

Dag, I think the Great Yeshiva Smoke-Out sounds like a great idea!

Bob MIller said...

Our boys attended a yeshiva with stiff, effective regulations against smoking. It can be done.

DAG said...

Scraps...thats why I left that job...i had several ideas like that which my boss rejected out of hand...

SephardiLady said...

Chaim B.--Certainly quitting isn't cheap, but the kids managed to use the money they were given to buy cigarettes, so it makes sense to me for the parents to be primarily reponsible.

I think direct responsibility on the part of the parents is best. Maybe instead of seeking funding, a free loan society for this purpose could be set up. Parents and their children who smoke could pay later, but still take on the responsibility.

Scraps--Nice idea about the kids contributing to their own treatment.

I do think the Yeshivot do bare some reponsibility, maybe even quite a lot of responsibility. Perhaps parents who sent their children away should draw up a no smoking contract with their children and a separate contract with the school that makes the school report substance use and abuse to the parents directly. A contract breached is a serious issue and carries more weight (that is the lawyer in me!).

Bob Miller-Absolutely.

DAG-Love your idea. I imagine the Yeshiva didn't want the parents to pick up on this negative.

DAG said...

Sephardi...i wasnt at a an organization that is supposed to work with youth at risk...

We didn't have the money. We did have the money to publish several volumes of the Rabbi's work at org expense, however

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there should be a special focus on Purim. I recall hearing one person say that that's when he started smoking. Perhaps that is the case with others as well.

DAG said...

Anon, I had a special Purim Pledge too...for drinking and driving

Anonymous said...

Do you realize the pain parents are in when they are totally anti smoking-and yet for whatever reason-one child-one of their children-becomes a smoker-be it the influence of the yeshiva dorm-be it a child who was not able to withstand peer pressure-maybe a child who needed to create his own image-the reasons are many and myriad- but please don't blame the parents. The hurt they are feeling not having been able to impress the serious health issues on their own child whom they love dearly is enough-more than enough pain inflicted already. Please Sephardilady withhold your judgement!! If 3 out of 4 children do not smoke or 7 out of 8 or whatever the numbers-do you not allow that chlidren-especially adolescents-will and can make their own decisions- regardless of how their parents try to guide them?
This is such a complicated issue-If all yeshivos/t would force a non-smoking zero-tolerance ban on their STAFF- Rebbeim and Roshei Yeshivos-the boys would not have the comeback- but so and so etc.
And do you really want to force incredibly good decent wonderful children on to the streets because they picked up a terrible addiction and now need help to stop? Would you advocate to throw them out of yeshiva? I don't know of a single parent(who is not a smoker)that wouldn't participate in any effort to help their child-but please don't blame the parents-please.

SephardiLady said...

What I am addressing is the **funding** for a quitting smoking program. I don't see a whole lot of Yeshiva guys with jobs and their own source of income. So I assume that the parents funded the habit (possibly without knowing so) and now I think that the parents of the smokers should pick up the tab for the cessation program and not the community. (It probably is wise to have the smokers themselves help pay for some of the treatment).

As parents, we need to be watching our children carefully and directing their choices. There is plenty of blame to go around in regards to this smoking epidemic. Must of the blame lies with the Yeshivas and with the community for allowing smoking to be acceptable.

Chas V'Shalom I end up with a child who smokes. If I do, I will HAPPILY eat the bill for a smoking cessation program. And if the burden of funding the treatment as a parent is on my shoulders, I will be more vigilant and will have more vested interest.

I don't propose throwing smokers out on the streets. But I do think there should be a no smoking policy for Rebbeim. They should not smoke anywhere where students can see them. There should also be a no smoking policy for bochurim in or around Yeshiva grounds. If we can enforce other rules of social conduct, certain we can ask bochurim not to smoke in certain areas.

Anonymous said...

I know some folks who learn in Lakewood and who are raising children there. General attitude is that whatever you do is fine, so long as you're not doing it with girls. I see 10 years old pretending to smoke, talking about how they'll be big yeshivah bochurs one day and smoke like the big learners. These guys get no physical exercise, can't so much as eat in a restaurant that might contain a girl, and we wonder why they turn to cigarettes.

Basically, smoking, drinking, and drugs are fine, so long as there are no girls involved.