The Human Toll of Smoking

Your article (Hamodia Prime, 11 Tishrei/October 10) entitled “Smoking: Are Restrictions Harmful to Your Liberty?” by Faygie Grunfeld was Hamodia at its best. In a thorough, honest and convincing way, you actually gave both sides of the argument: personal liberty (even to smoke) versus saving lives (which smoking endangers). Upon finishing it, the reader does not even know (or need to know) which side Ms. Grunfeld is on. Journalism at its best.

I didn’t bother asking myself which side I agree with because my vote doesn’t count. I don’t have any power over this issue at all. You see, I am married to a heavy smoker, and I am also the mother of one.

My husband began smoking as a teenager, as described in Ms. Grunfeld’s interview with a shoel u’meishiv. He became addicted, as smokers do. When we dated, the frequent cigarette breaks and the smells did not bother me. It was all part of the excitement of finding my bashert. Only after we had several children, and due to my asthma my husband had to start smoking outside only (and so he was frequently leaving us), did it start to bother me.

As the years passed, I stopped being bothered so much by his walking out for a cigarette and became more bothered by the deep fear, more like terror, associated with smoking, especially now that the dangers are clear and well known. We all know smokers who have died of lung cancer or other illnesses caused by smoking. To understate the issue significantly, I don’t want my husband to be next, chas v’shalom.

When the kids got a little older, they printed little books of matches with the words “ABBA PLEASE DON’T, WE LOVE YOU” on them. My husband, a kind and loving soul, threw the matches out.

Now that they’re all grown and out, they call him on a regular basis to ask him to please quit. And I realize that they are in cahoots about it, because I noticed that one month this daughter calls, and the next month, a certain son; basically, they are taking turns calling and respectfully begging their father to quit.

Most of them, that is. There’s one son who smokes just like his father.

So what’s my point? My point is that the media are very clear about the dangers of smoking, but they never include in the long list “trauma of family.” The entire family is terrified that something will happen to Abba. They and I have nightmares about it.

There have been times that my husband has asked me to cut down on an expense or two to make it easier for him to support us. I don’t say it, but I think to myself, “Oh, and the two packs a day — are they free?” No matter what our financial situation has been (and there were times that it was quite dire), the cigarettes were always bought.

My husband, a kind, hardworking and caring person, would do anything for his family. Anything except quit smoking.

Smoking is absolutely vile. I am not surprised that none of our nine daughters married a smoker. The ongoing fear and deep distress that the smoker causes his family are not small side effects.

Thank you again for the article. I gave it to him to read. He read only the first page, then put it down and walked away.

Sarah Schmidt, Los Angeles, CAlif.