In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 7, 2005 / 29 Iyar, 5765

Firing up a fat one

By Tom Purcell

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My friend was terrified his daughter would find out.

The plan was to grill some juicy steaks, then, after his kids were put to bed, fire up a couple high-quality cigars, sip some excellent scotch and enjoy a relaxing conversation next to a bonfire.

But when I arrived and attempted to carry my cigars out of my car, a panic set in. My friend did not want his daughter to see them. He had me hide them in the trunk.

That got me thinking about the state of morality these days. Children are well taught to hate cigarette smoking, not a bad thing, but they hate it the way America once hated communism and polio.

To be sure, smoking is generally a bad idea. Cigarettes are addictive and, if you smoke enough of them, they'll likely cause a host of health problems, cancer and heart disease among them.

But cigar smoking? There are few things as relaxing as sitting outside on a gorgeous evening, enjoying a drag on a finely wrapped tobacco leaf, and then letting out a slow locomotive burst of smoke.

Sure, cigar smoking is a vice, and as is the case with any vice, there is an upside and a downside. The upside is that allows a man to embrace his mortality, as he watches it slip away from him one smoky breath at a time. The downside is the associated health risk, but I'm puzzled by that one.

Jacob Sullum, an editor at Reason Magazine, has spent a good deal of time studying the cigarette-cigar debate. His conclusion is that the media and various health officials have got loosey-goosey with the evidence, preferring instead to brand any smoking as perilous, when the facts don't bear it out.

Sullum points to data compiled by National Cancer Institute (NCI) in a 1998 study. It showed that daily cigar smokers have a slightly increased risk of oral and esophageal cancers, but face much lower risks of lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and chronic obstructive lung disease than cigarette smokers do. Cigar smokers crazy enough to inhale face the greatest risk. And a New England Journal of Medicine study also shows that the health risks tend to involve the heaviest cigar smokers.

But three-quarters of all cigar smokers, according to the NCI study, enjoy their vice occasionally, as I do. No evidence exists to suggest that occasional smokers face significantly increased health risks.

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But nobody is dwelling on these nuances and gradations. The anti-tobacco forces that have been successfully getting governments in America and the world to ban smoking are intent on stamping out all smoking, which means I'll soon not get to visit my favorite pub now and then to enjoy a relaxing puff.

I admit to having mixed feelings about all of this. On one hand, cigarette smoking and frequent cigar smoking do come with risks, and some folks have suffered mightily from them. The world would be better off if people gave up such dastardly habits.

But I also think free choice and a little vice are good for the soul. And where the vice of occasional cigar smoking is concerned, the relaxation and enjoyment it produces outweighs any potential risks, at least where this free-choice decision maker is concerned.

But I also know times have changed and what is "moral" and "immoral" is also changing. I suppose that without a solid villain to keep us focused — terrorism lacks the clarity of communism and Nazism and it's hard to rally people against an enemy when he's hiding in a cave — we're forced to demonize something. Since anti-alcohol efforts fizzled out in the 1930's, it's tobacco's turn at bat.

That is why children go into indignant rages when they catch their dad firing up an occasional stogie, because smoking is, apparently, the greatest evil of our times (except for marijuana smoking, which, ironically, some anti-tobacco folks want made legal, partly because it's something they'd do occasionally).

I'm so puzzled by the matter, I'm going to mull it over while enjoying a nice fat cigar.

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© 2005, Tom Purcell