• "Smoke pours forth from his nostrils" (Job 41:20).
  • "And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever" (Revelation 14:20).

Whether the verses above have been properly exegeted or not (and I assure you they have not!) it remains a fact that smoking is a serious social problem. In fact I am writing to you just 350 miles from the Lung Cancer Capital of the world -- Glasgow Scotland according to a WHO report. Yet it is not just Glasgow that is belching up thick clouds of cancerous smoke.

The nicotine craze has spread over the entire inhabited earth. All of us have friends who are "hooked." The purpose of this article is to offer a practical study on the subject of smoking one that you will be able to use as you teach your friends God's word.

1. Smoking enslaves
Smoking cigarettes, cigars, etc. is enslaving and it is a principle of God s word that we should not allow ourselves to be enslaved by anything (Romans 6:12-13 2 Peter 2:19). It can be argued that many substances are habit-forming including the ubiquitous caffeine. There too caution must be exercised. And yet it has not been shown that coffee and tea have serious physical effects such as carcinogenic ones.

2. Honor God with your body
The scriptures teach that our physical bodies are not our own and that we are to honor God with our bodies. Clearly this rules out all self-destructive habits (1 Corinthians 6:20, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

3. Bad example
Cigarette smokers are setting an example for those they love: friends relatives immediate family. Perhaps those who are heard the most are children. In London it is not uncommon to see ten- or eleven-year-olds puffing a "fag" (British slang for cigarette). I certainly appreciate having grown up in a home environment where no one smoked. Never underestimate the force of example.

4. Waste of money
At $5.00 a pack -- depending on the region of the world you are in -- smoking can be an expensive habit. God expects us to use his money wisely (Matthew 25:14 etc). Can the smoker afford the expense?

5. Professional hazard
There are many advantages to hiring non-smokers. Premiums on health life accident and fire insurance policies are lower. Cleaning and maintenance costs for office furniture and equipment are reduced. Further smokers take 50% more sick leave than their non-smoking co-workers. And mortality rates in the peak working years (ages 30 to 45) are four to seven times as great for smokers as for non-smokers. Thus over a period of five years an employer can save up to $2000 a year by hiring a non-smoker instead of a smoker. Moreover morale has been shown to be significantly higher in smoke-free work environments. So it is no surprise that personnel managers of large U.S. companies considering candidates of equal qualifications opt for the non-smoker 15 out of 16 times! (Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, 4 October 1986).

6. Undermines influence
Considering the importance of influence in reference to our goal of evangelizing the world we cannot afford to tolerate habits that undercut our ability to win others to Christ. Smoking tends to alienate non-smokers the majority of religious people and smokers trying to quit. In the US 30% of the population smokes and 87% of those who smoke want to quit according to polls.

7. Violates others rights
Smoking can be a public nuisance. Did you know that 1/3 of all fire-related deaths are caused by careless smokers? Smoke fouls clothing irritates the eyes-especially for contact lens wearers-and significant increases cancer incidence. (The non-smoking spouse of a smoker who consumes 20 cigarettes a day runs a 33% higher chance of contracting smoke-related cancer.) Jesus clearly taught us to put others first. The principles of Matthew 7:12 (the "Golden Rule") and Philippians 2:4 are more than common courtesy. They are God's will for our lives.

8. Serious medical risk
One third of all cancer cases are lung cancer and 90% of these are caused by smoking. A smoker s chances of getting cancer are ten times higher than a non-smoker s while a pack-a-day smoker s chances are twenty times higher. Sadly only 5% of cases of lung cancer are curable. Smoking is also known to cause cancer of the bladder kidney larynx mouth pancreas pharynx and trachea. Non-smokers feel better are more healthy and live longer than their non-smoking counterparts. In fact the annual death rate (all causes) is 58% higher for smokers. "Tobacco is a nauseating plant consumed by only two creatures: a large green worm and man. The worm doesn’t know any better." -- Unknown

9. Years off your life span
How can we make the most of every opportunity or "redeem the time" (Ephesians 5:16) when we chop years off the end of our lives? On average a pack of cigarettes reduces your life expectancy by six hours. Life is a precious gift one which we must conserve cherish and use wisely in the Master's service.

10. It is lethal
In the U.S. one may be warned "The Surgeon General has determined that smoking causes lung cancer emphysema and heart disease." In the U.K. where smoking is tolerated in more public buildings (even until recently in hospitals!) the warning somewhat more dilute brings the same message: "Cigarette smoking can cause cancer and other serious health problems." Tobacco lobbies notwithstanding, smoking is lethal. Ignorance may have been an excuse 50 years ago but not these days. In light of all the evidence ask yourself whether it makes sense to use tobacco.

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 1986. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.