Teens: let us smoke on tour
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The hot topic among Jewish youth movements this summer has been whether or not to allow participants to smoke on "tour" - the Israel summer schemes for post-GCSE 16-year-olds.
The dilemma arises over a change in UK law which has raised the age at which cigarettes can be bought to 18, the same as in Israel. But legally, 16-year-olds in Britain can smoke.
Traditionally, those going on tour have seized the opportunity to take along duty-free cigarettes from the UK.
But the change in the law has caused considerable debate in the youth movements, most of which have now banned smoking on tour.
An exception is RSY, the youth movement of the Reform community.
RSY's Adam Martin said: "They are only allowed to smoke cigarettes that they already have from home while on tour, and will be asked to smoke alone and not in groups.
"Some of the tour participants may have been smoking for two or three years and we understand that they can't give up for a month. They are not allowed to smoke in groups, so if they want to have a cigarette they will have to do so alone because we don't want to encourage people to smoke."
Those on BBYO tour will also be allowed to smoke, but only if they too have cigarettes from the UK and with parental consent. Bnei Akiva's teens can only smoke with parental consent. But Rosemarie Davidson, its administrator, said that since none had been given such consent, all tours would be completely non-
Jonny Bunt, director of FZY, said: "There will be no smoking at all allowed on our tours. We strongly support the new laws. If anyone is caught smoking while on tour, it will be considered a disciplinary breach."
The JC took to the streets to find out if the public believed teens on Israel tours should be allowed to smoke.
Most older respondents, in the spirit of health and political correctness, were firmly anti-smoking, and welcomed the opportunity that a month away from cigarettes would give teenagers to give up the weed.
But others disagreed...
Should they light up? Views from North London streets
Yifat Weinberger, 26, a restaurant owner (and smoker) from Jerusalem: "If the parents buy the cigarettes then it is okay. Why shouldn't they be allowed? I have smoked since I was 14. It's fine."
Leor Levy, 20, a yeshiva student from Stamford Hill: "Smoking is not particularly good in the first place, and it is a positive thing that they have changed the law. But a more laid-back approach, rather than banning it outright on tour, would be better.
Israeli Omer Tal, 25, a waiter at Golders Green café Coby's: "While I don't think it is good to smoke, I think that the kids need to have the freedom to smoke and they should all experience it, as it is good to experience things."