A group of Israeli haredi rabbis led by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has declared that all cigarettes are hametz, leven, and are not to be smoked during Passover.
Why do these rabbis claim cigarettes are hametz? Because…
…they believe manufacturers add wheat derivatives to the tobacco.
In an unprecedented initiative, numerous leading rabbinical arbiters have warned the public in signs posted in haredi neighborhoods that cigarettes and cigars "contain essences that are leaven [hametz] and that they should not be smoked during Pessah.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the leading Lithuanian rabbinical arbiter who lives in Jerusalem, signed an announcement that states: "Rabbi Elyashiv has told those who asked him that of course one must not smoke cigarettes during Pessah as long as they are suspected of having leaven. And this is besides the prohibition of smoking all year because of the dangers [to health]."
Rabbi Moshe Sternberg of the Eda Haredit said that he informed his congregants that they should not smoke cigarettes or cigars. But those who nevertheless do should be aware of the fact that "most cigarettes absolutely contain leaven, to which dozens of flavorings and aromas are added, besides the fact that tobacco is rinsed in alcohol.
"Some of the essences come from wheat, and flour has been added," the rabbi declared.
Sternbuch said that there are those who observe strictures to keep cigarettes out of their homes completely during Pessah. He has seen stamps of "kashrut supervision" on cigarettes, but he said it was impossible to accept this as tobacco products have hundreds of components, and it cannot be determined whether they are all free from leaven.
Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Dunner wrote that in addition to the "prohibition to smoke tobacco all year [due to the serious danger to health], it is especially forbidden to smoke during Pessah because of essences with leaven."
The Jerusalem Post called Dubek, which manufactures or imports most tobacco products sold in Israel, but officials did not return the calls.
In previous years, Dubek advertised in haredi newspapers that it had a company rabbi who ensured the kashrut and suitability for Pessah of its products.