In general, I'm not very into the blind following of Rabbi's, especially not when they come out assuring something or other that until then was totally accepted by all.
But today I find myself posting in favor of such a proclamation by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The Jerusalem Post reports that Rav Ovadia has changed his stand on smoking.
Everyone who has ever come in contact with a chareidi yeshive knows how common spread and accepted smoking is. It reminds me of a shabbat I spent at my Chareidi, Sfardi family. Somehow the conversation drifted onto smoking and my cousins were appealing to my uncle (the retired doctor) that smoking really isn't bad for you, right? I felt like I had just drifted back 50 years in time. I know the Chareidi world isn't very into science and all that, but I was shocked to hear that they honestly believed it doesn't harm them whatsoever and that almost all their friends in yeshive and rabbi's smoke. I have to add that at this point in life my husband was also in yeshive and that no one their smoked. I think it wasn't tolerated their, though it really was a non issue, simply no one smoked. My uncle gave a little smile, but refrained from answering the original question, which was a little disappointing. I still tried to make a stand, but it was hopeless.
Now however, the hope is back, for this time it isn't a non-chareidi woman telling him to stop, but rather it's their biggest spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia. He is calling on everyone to quit and stop the practice of handing out cigarettes at happy occasions like engagements. He even gives an example of how one can try quiting.
All I can say is good for him and I hope that people will listen to this one as they usually do when things are assured.