The Rabbinical Council of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox group, has unanimously ruled that Jewish law bans smoking.

“We should have done it years ago,” acknowledged Rabbi Basil Herring, RCA’s executive vice president. “But it is never too late to say it is important to put an end to certain things that should be formally recognized for the evil they are.”

He added, “I think there are many young men and women for whom this will carry weight,” referring to the Va’ad Halacha’s responsum which is posted online at [www.rabbis.org/pdfs/Prohibition_Smoking.pdf. “In the Orthodox community rabbinical authorities remain influential, especially with young men and women who develop relationships with their rebbes.”