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    Kosher cigarettes – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Do cigarettes have to be kosher?

    cigaretteA. No form of smoking is really kosher.

    There is so much evidence that smoking is bad for your health that no-one should be smoking at all, either cigarettes of anything else. Maimonides says bluntly that anything which carries a known risk to life or health must not be indulged in (Hilchot Rotze’ach 11:5).

    Historically, cigarettes began in Spain in the 18th century. Before this, people had known about smoking tobacco, and it is said that beggars in the streets picked up remnants of used cigars, wrapped the tobacco in paper and made money from selling the resultant cigarettes.

    Rabbis had long debated the use of tobacco, especially on Pesach when there was a problem with the additives mixed with the tobacco. The Magen Avraham (Hilchot Pesach 467) reported that beer was mixed with the tobacco and the result was chametz on Pesach.

    Others retorted that the tobacco is not actually eaten, so the most that can be said is that tobacco should not be taken on Pesach as a stringency.

    Since tobacco is no longer soaked in beer, there may not be such a strict prohibition of smoking on Pesach these days. However, there could still be a problem of other additives.

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