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Monday, October 04, 2010

The Price of Smoking (and Tuition)

There is a popular tuition blog on which a poster proposed a "point system" for tuition assistance. It read as the form of a magazine quiz and if a parent exceeded the allotted points, they would be uneligible for reduction. I can't say that I was in agreement with the point value of each triggering item.

But, there is one thing I can think of that is such a tremendous waste of money (to say nothing of the negative health impact), that if schools were to withhold assistance, you wouldn't find me shedding any tears.

A 24 year old woman smoker will spend an average of $86,000 over a lifetime on cigs; a 24 yr old male smoker will spend $183,000. (link) Hat Tip: today's Dave Ramsey update

Time to smoke out this expensive habit.


tesyaa said...

Those dollar values are probably way higher if you live in New York (as many yeshiva tuition payers do).

But I doubt this will ever be instituted. Not only is there a strong tolerance of smokers in the frum community, but even I have sympathy for people who try to quit, but can't, or have tremendously difficulty.

There should be zero tolerance for teenagers smoking, however. Anyone who lets their kids start smoking should have all tuition assistance rescinded!

I have my theory of why smoking is so tolerated, despite R. Moshe Feinstein's psak. Anything that the government says is bad for you, the frum community is more willing to tolerate & embrace. Apparently, the frum community sees the government as the enemy, instead of thinking over each issue on its own merits.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Anything that the government says is bad for you"

all the more so if science says it's bad for you

Anonymous said...

Today I observed two young yeshiva boys smoking. I wondered whether smoking is more prevalent in the yeshiva population than in the general population.

Ariella said...

I consider smoking completely intolerable. It's incredible that people will spend about $8 a pack, which could easily amount to $16 a day habit for something that pollutes their bodies and fouls the air around them. The smell of the cigarettes gets into their clothes and hair, so even when they don't smoke around you, you are not free of the noxious effects.

Garnel Ironheart said...

As a physician, I have little tolerance for this issue.
I have had parents tell me they can't afford the medication I just prescribed for their child even as the box of cigarettes juts out of their shirt pockets and the reek of their filthy habit attacks my nostrils.
I recall one guy telling me he couldn't afford what I was prescribing. I reminded him he smoked. He asked: So what?
"If you can afford cigarettes, you can afford these pills."
He left my ER muttering "Why do all the doctors tell me that?"

Abba's Rantings said...


as a pharmacist i get it from the other end. i have medicaid patients who don't pay their fifty cent copays (where i live they are exempt from copays even though it often means we lose money on an RX) but somehow have five bucks for a pack of cigarettes.

but as far as the post is concerned, as much as i don't like smoking, i don't think it is a school's place to dictate parents' specific behavior (whether smoking or not covering hair). if the school wants to say that parents on scholarship need to reign in their discretionary spending, this is fine. but from the school's perspective there should be no difference whether a parent spends 50 bucks/week on cigarettes or 50 bucks/week eating out lunch every day.

JS said...

"I wondered whether smoking is more prevalent in the yeshiva population than in the general population."

It's common in college and graduate programs as well. I've never smoked, but those who do tell me it helps them focus and study for the long hours necessary. Whether the nicotine helps with focusing in and of itself or whether the removal of the effects of nicotine withdrawal helps with focusing I have no idea. Maybe a doctor can answer that issue.

"but as far as the post is concerned, as much as i don't like smoking, i don't think it is a school's place to dictate parents' specific behavior (whether smoking or not covering hair)."

I disagree. I'm stealing an analogy from another blog, but how is a requirement that boy's have to wear jackets during davening, for example, any different than a restaurant that requires a jacket to be served? The school is a private institution and set whatever ridiculous policies it wants. If you don't like the policies, you don't have to send your kids there. It would be pretty ridiculous for me to send my kids to a RW yeshiva, for example, and then complain about the flak they give me for having a TV and Internet and my wife not covering her hair or wearing pants.

I'd add that this applies to other "policies" of the school. If you don't want your kid learning Judaism as if it's a bunch of fairy tales and cute stories, don't send your kids to such a school.

Dave said...

Isn't smoking ossur anyway?

Abba's Rantings said...


requiring a jacket in school, i.e., regulating behavior in school, is very different than penalizing a parent for smoking or having a TV, which is regulating behavior outside the school.

(incidentally, we were annoyed for various reasons that my son's school had instituted a policy requiring mothers to wear skirts on school grounds. but that is their right. had they told my wife that she has to wear only skirts when not in the school as well, that would have been a different story. of course there are many schools that do this and i always wonder if a family can sue a school for rejecting or expelling a child for frumkeit issues outside of school)

Abba's Rantings said...


as far as the yeshivah/restaurant analogy: the restarant is a propriatary establishment and the owner is free to set whatever policy he wishes retgardless of customer preference. (actually this isn't entirely true, as a restaurant can't refuse to serve black custoners for example). on the other hand the yeshivah, at least ostensibly, is a communal institution and should somewhat reflect the norms, ideals and desires of the parent body.

Anonymous said...

Why would someone deny a child an education because the parent is unfortunate to have a terrible addiction that they can't overcome. Personally, I think everyone who makes money off of cigarettes from the ad companies to the drug stores to the manufacturers to politicians who take tobacco money should be shot, but punishing the victims of this addiction (many of whom got addicted when young and/or stupid, or were more susceptable to addiction because of other problems, like depression) and the victim's children is mean-spirited. Maybe a strict policy would get a few more people to quit, -- if so that would be great, but I'm afraid that as long as smoking is legal, there are going to be a few addicts among us.

Dave said...

If one or more of the parents were regularly known to partake of Bacon Cheeseburgers (which are of course legal in the United States), would the child be allowed to remain?

JS said...


I don't see the distinction between behavior inside and outside of the institution. If I want to be a member of the humane society (organization for the protection of animals) I would think my conduct toward animals outside of meetings or off the premises of the organization would be relevant. Or what of an organization that requires charitable giving in order to be a member?

Further, see what Dave just wrote. Driving on Shabbat? Non-kosher home? Eat out dairy? Where do you draw the line? Answer: at whatever policy the school wants. If you don't like it, don't send your kids there.

The school can set any ridiculous requirements it wants. Unless it's the only school that can reasonably accommodate Jewish students (e.g., only school for 50 miles), just go to another school.

Abba's Rantings said...


"I don't see the distinction between behavior inside and outside of the institution."

i do. (and in any case, even if there really is no distinction as you say, i still think it's just bad policy for schools to regular outside behavior)

"I would think my conduct toward animals outside of meetings or off the premises of the organization would be relevant."

and is the conduct of your parents toward animals relevant as well?

"The school can set any ridiculous requirements it wants"

i agree that they *can*, but i don't think it's right. (i've lost track here. are we arguing whether they can do so or if it's right for them to do so?) and as i mentioned above, i'd like for a lawyer to weigh in here if a jewish school, as the recipient of government $, is entitled to discriminate on religious grounds. (iirc, the non-discrimination clauses that appear in advs. for jewish school mention race, national origina, etc. but *not* religion)

"just go to another school."

we just did

Dave said...

I'd be very surprised if religious schools in the United States were not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion.

If they were part of a voucher program, or a charter program, that would be another matter...

tesyaa said...

Dave - I may be wrong, but I seem to recall seeing advertisements for yeshivas including disclaimers that they don't discriminate based on the standard things - including religion.

Abba's Rantings said...


at least in new york, jewish schools get a lot of funding from the government (books, busing, lunch, remedial resources, nurses, computers and software, etc.). nothing to do with vouchers or charter programs.
as far as the one existing hebrew charter school in new york, it doesn't have to worry about proving that it doesn't discriminate based on religion.


from what i recall (because i remember being surprised), the advertisements i've seen in the jewish week and other papers do not include religion in the non-discrimination clause

Anonymous said...

I know a two pack a day smoker who says he can't afford to buy his son school clothes. They went and got them at a Salvation Army event for free. He went there on the hopes that no one would recognize him there. This man also has no mnney for health or life insurance, as he thinks the community will take care of his family if something happens to him.

mlevin said...

I really hate smoking and hate the smell and finding those disgusting butts on the floor but... I spoke to many smokers and they all assure me that they buy cigarettes outside of the city and it doesn't cost them crazy amount.

clearly said...

Why did the argument turn into "schools are telling parents what to do"? The post was saying, "If you smoke, your tuition break is smaller because you've got enough $ for cigarettes."

Abba said...


because If you eat sushi for lunch every day, the school is not saying your tuition break is smaller because you've got enough $ for sushi

AztecQueen2000 said...

OK, but what about the teenaged and early-20s young men who smoke? Assuring the parents is one thing--until about 20 years ago, smoking had a certain chic about it. But those of us who are currently in yeshiva (the students, not the parents) should be expelled (or certainly denied tution breaks) for smoking. Also, if a 16-year-old yeshiva student is lighting up, he's not getting his own smokes. He doesn't have the money and it's illegal!