SMOKING IS A CURSE
By Wayne S. Walker
Back in 1987, several newspaper articles revealed a number of interesting facts about smoking. Then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop predicted that the smoker of 1995 would probably be segregated from society, forced to practice his habit alone or out of doors, as the United States moved towards a smoke-free society by 2000. And he said that it will not be a government ban on smoking which would accomplish this but pressure from a grass-roots movement of militant non-smokers. [Note: The segregation of smokers has to a large degree taken place as many states have banned indoor smoking in public buildings, though it took both government bans and pressure from non-smokers to accomplish it, but we obviously did not achieve a smoke-free society by 2000.] Furthermore, the American Medical Association called for a total ban on all cigarette and tobacco advertising, and the United States House of Representatives passed a bill calling for health warnings on “smokeless tobacco” as well.
Why have we had all this effort to change the tobacco use habits of America? Dr. William Pollin, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, reports that tobacco is the deadliest of all addictive drugs. It is eight times deadlier and six to nine times more addictive than alcohol. It causes diseases that kill 350,000 Americans a year, six times the number of American deaths in the whole Vietnam War. Furthermore, addiction to it is harder to treat and fatal more often than addiction to heroin. Yet, it is freely open and sold for profit all over the country, even children used to be able to buy it from vending machines, and the federal government subsidizes its production on 182,000 farms in six southern states.
Smoking is deadly not only to the smoker but also to others as well. The Environmental Protection Agency tells us that tobacco smoke has become one of the most deadly indoor pollutants and can be expected to kill between 500 and 5000 non-smokers a year. Officials believe that the number will be closer to 5000 because “passive” or second-hand tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is the major cause of death due to cancer caused by airborne carcinogens. This is especially a problem in the home. The British Medical Journal published a study showing that parents who smoke can expose their children to enough nicotine to equal the effects of smoking about eighty cigarettes a year, and this much “passive smoking” in children aged eleven to sixteen may be enough to have serious and negative effects on health, including chronic coughs and related respiratory problems.
And even worse, Dr. Janet Sax, a Kaiser Foundation pediatrician, declared that smoking when pregnant is like holding a baby to the exhaust pipe of a car. Heavy smoking by a mother can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of a fetus by 25%. The results are much increased risks of defective babies, spontaneous abortions, premature births, small newborn children, sudden infant death syndrome (crib death), and the greater possibility of cancer later on in the offspring. Therefore, Dr. Sax was chairwoman of a task force including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Fund, the American Lung Association, and the Mothers March of Dimes Against Birth Defects that is trying to get pregnant women to stop smoking.
It is abundantly clear, then, that smoking is injurious to health. One who smokes is knowingly and willingly harming his own body, which is to be presented as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1) because it “is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own: (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are to glorify God with our bodies, not destroy them senselessly. Moreover, tobacco smoke is something that is obnoxious, offensive, and even dangerous to others, especially unborn infants and small children. Remember that the Lord commands us, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12). Would you want someone else to harm your health?
The purpose of this article is not to say that smoking is, beyond the shade of a shadow of a doubt, a sin, like fornication (though evidence seems to be mounting in that direction—how can we say that other forms of drug abuse are sin, aside from being illegal, and not affirm the same of smoking?), and that everyone who does it is necessarily out of fellowship with God and will definitely be lost. Each one will have to make that decision for himself. It is to say, however, that there is sufficient evidence to affirm that Christians, who are to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16), should not be found engaged in such activity.
Thus, if you are a smoker, we would encourage you, for your own sake and for the sake of your influence on others, including your family, to quit. And to those who do not yet smoke, especially young people, we would strongly urge you not to start.
—taken from Torch; July, 1987; Vol. XXII, No. 7; pp. 16-16; slightly updated