Jewish tradition enjoins us to cherish life, nurture it, preserve it and protect it.
In our time, cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease. Each year over 300,000 Americans and 75,000 Canadians die from causes associated with the use of tobacco. The American Cancer Society and the Surgeon General of the United States concur: smoking one or two packs of cigarettes per day decreases a smoker's life expectancy by at least 6 to 8 years.
Non-smokers are also put in danger by the smokers around them. Indirect smoking (the inhalation by non-smokers of smoke released into the air by burning tobacco products) can cause disease, including lung cancer in healthy non-smokers. Infants and children exposed to tobacco smoke have increased respiratory infections and specific changes in lung function. The simple separation of smokers and non-smokers in the same airspace does not decrease the hazards to non-smokers.
THEREFORE , BE IT RESOLVED that the Union of American Hebrew Congregations:
- Ban smoking at all of its meetings, functions, and workplaces and urge its affiliates and congregations to do likewise.
- Establish educational programs which discourage the use of smoking and non-smoking tobacco products, and make those programs available to its congregations for use in their religious schools and youth group programs.
- Support enactment of legislation to protect non-smokers in public areas and workplaces.
- Urge the United States and Canadian governments to phase out subsidies to the tobacco industry with steps taken to cushion adverse economic impact.
- Urge parents who smoke to refrain from smoking when they are with or around their children.