The Bible’s View
Why Not Smoke?
“SMOKING, after all, is not a sin.” So wrote one person in a letter to a noted United States newspaper. Doubtless, this comment reflects the attitude of most people, especially those who use tobacco. They are likely to ask, ‘Why not smoke? After all, it is not a sin.’
Yet others may feel that it is wrong to smoke. Who is right? What does the Bible indicate?
Compatible with Human Attributes?
One of the principal attributes with which the Creator has endowed man is wisdom. But is it wise to smoke? Well, the third report on smoking issued by Britain’s Royal College of Physicians was entitled “Smoking or Health,” instead of “Smoking and Health,” as had previously been the case. Alluding to the report, the journal New Scientist stated: “The evidence that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and bronchitis is overwhelming.” So, how wise is it to smoke and thus imperil one’s health?
Another God-given human quality is justice. But is an expectant smoking mother dealing justly with her unborn child? Not really, for the Medical Department of Japan’s Tohoku University has reported that smoking women give birth to babies weighing an average of 200 grams (7 ounces) less than those of nonsmokers.
Love is another quality given by Jehovah God to humankind. But is it loving to smoke? Evidence gleaned from a five-year study by researchers of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has indicated that the offspring of smoking parents had pneumonia or bronchitis during their initial year of life twice as frequently as did the children of nonsmoking parents. So it is not an act of love when family members smoke.
Still another attribute with which God has endowed humans is power. Smoking decreases willpower, for the use of tobacco becomes addictive. Accordingly, Dr. Robert Dupont, director of the United States National Institute of Drug Abuse, called tobacco “probably the most deadly drug in our society,” and remarked: “People who use cigarettes have the same problem as heroin users. Both groups have a problem of control from morning to night 365 days a year.”
Contrary to Bible Principles
By imperiling or ruining their health, smokers show a lack of wisdom, whereas the Bible encourages the acquisition and exercise of that quality. (Prov. 4:7-9; 7:4) Moreover, a wise person acts in a way that benefits him. Thus an inspired proverb says: “If you have become wise, you have become wise in your own behalf.”—Prov. 9:12.
Also, whereas it really is unjust to injure the health of others by smoking, the Scriptures demand just acts on the part of those desiring God’s approval.—Mic. 6:8.
By befouling the air, smokers do not show love for their families and others. Yet, love of neighbor is a Christian requirement. Jesus Christ said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39) Loving one’s neighbor also calls for practicing the Golden Rule enunciated by Jesus: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matt. 7:12) Certainly, if a person was doing something in your presence that was obnoxious or sickening, you would consider it loving if he desisted.
Love of God also is involved. In what way? Well, those who have dedicated their lives to Jehovah God are to love Him with their whole heart, mind and soul, as Jesus indicated. Obviously, such persons would not want to endanger and possibly ruin their health by smoking and thus try to present to God something made inferior by their deliberate action. That would be contrary to the apostle Paul’s counsel that Christians present their bodies “a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God.” (Rom. 12:1) Moreover, since this sacrifice is to be “holy,” true followers of Christ heed Paul’s admonition: “Let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Cor. 7:1) That leaves no room for such an unclean habit as smoking, does it?
Also, please consider the matter of power over one’s own will. If this were diminished by addiction to the drug nicotine found in tobacco, how could one please Jehovah God? His Word urges the cultivation and display of self-control, a fruit of God’s spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23; 2 Pet. 1:5, 6) Can it be said that godly self-control really is being exercised by persons who yield to nicotine addiction?
Consider a further point. Nicotine addiction affects the mind detrimentally and produces enslavement. Hence, it may be classed with addictive drugs, such as those that provided the source for the Greek term pha·ma·kiʹa, initially meaning “druggery.” Due to the close connection between drug use and spiritism, this Greek word came to be associated with spiritistic practices. In fact, it was used by Bible writers and has been rendered “practice of spiritism” and “spiritistic practices” in passages that clearly condemn spiritism. (Gal. 5:20, 21; Rev. 9:20, 21) Therefore, persons who have not broken their addiction to tobacco do not qualify for baptism in symbol of an acceptable dedication to God.
Further Causes for Concern
For these many reasons, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses shun tobacco. It would not be proper for any smoker to present himself as representing one of their congregations in declaring the “good news.” Why not? Because spiritual and physical cleanness are required of those who are, in effect, “carrying the utensils of Jehovah.”—Isa. 52:11; Ex. 30:17-21; Lev. 22:2-8.
Smoking in secret would not be fitting for one desiring divine approval either, for that would be devious. Such a person would be sinning, not only by smoking, but by hiding that fact from associates in the Christian congregation. Appropriately, we are told in Scripture: “The devious person is a detestable thing to Jehovah, but His intimacy is with the upright ones.”—Prov. 3:32.
Through earnest prayer and reliance on Jehovah God, hundreds of thousands of persons have overcome deeply entrenched bad habits and practices. (1 Cor. 6:9-11) Many have learned why they should not smoke. Then, with the aid of God’s spirit, they have had the self-control and strength needed to overcome this unclean custom that stands in the way of faithful service to Jehovah and life in his new order.—Luke 11:13; Phil. 4:13.