By Raitza Greenspan
I recently attended a talk by a group of shadchanim. One of the issues addressed was that of bachurim who smoke. It seems many girls are putting “non-smoker” on their deal-breaker list.
The shadchan who addressed the issue claimed that doctors, who have studied the effects of tobacco for years and have all definitively concluded that it is an addiction, are wrong. In the opinion of the shadchan, most bachurim can and will quit in time to make a shidduch and it will have no long-lasting effect on them.
I feel that this statement is shortsighted, irresponsible and damaging.
As the wife of a smoker, I feel more than qualified to speak about this. My husband was a smoker when we were dating but I was not aware of that until further into the shidduch process. He assured me that he would quit once we got married, and he did.
For six years — many years ago.
Once the stress of a growing family, aging parents, tighter finances, and medical issues set in, the addiction (and there really is nothing else to call it) reared its ugly (or smelly) head again.
At this point, I am resigned to my fate. Apparently, there is nothing I can do to control this and trying to will only damage my shalom bayis.
Baruch Hashem, I am blessed with a wonderful, loving husband and family and I daven daily that I should continue to enjoy these blessings until 120.
Yet when it comes to my sons, I do not mince my words. I tell them that smoking is a dirty and expensive habit which can kill people in a terribly painful way. I walk a fine line here, letting them know that Abba smokes and we love and respect him, but I will do everything in my power so they have the strength to not pick up that first cigarette.
If you can avoid that, you can avoid a lifetime of fallout afterward. (Imagine the damage done, the addicts created, just by the custom of giving out chassan cigarettes, or just-on-Purim cigarettes. Can we do away with that one please?)
For a shadchan to encourage girls to date boys who smoke, since in his professional opinion it is something that the bachur can simply walk away from, is mind-boggling to me. That needs to be a decision made by the girl and her parents without any pressure or input from the shadchan.
I have spoken with a number of smokers over the past several months who quit for an extended period of time, like my husband, and almost across the board, at one point or another, they have gone back to smoking.
We non-smokers cannot fully understand the pull and addiction nicotine has over a person. But at the very least, we must acknowledge it so that we can honestly address the far-reaching and terrible effect it has and continues to have on so many frum families.
I do believe that it is up to Hakadosh Baruch Hu to protect my husband but if there is any way I can help someone avoid living with the dread of having a spouse or a child as a smoker, I would do whatever I could to help them, including writing this.