Summary: Examining smoking in light of what the Bible teaches.
Is Smoking a Sin?
by Cooper Abrams
*(All rights reserved)
INTRO: I was raised in Eastern North Carolina in the Flue Cured Tobacco Belt and the home of all the large tobacco companies. I know a lot about tobacco. As a boy I worked in the summer in "putting in" tobacco which means to harvest and cure it for market. Our family looked forward to tobacco season because it paid well, a whole five dollars a day for "handers, loopers, truckers" and seven dollars for "primers." The money I made each summer enabled me to buy my school clothes for the coming year. Tobacco was the cash crop of Eastern NC and most farmers and the towns in that country depended on it for their major part of their income. At about 15 years old I started smoking as many other teenagers did. At school lunch cost a quarter which was the price of a pack of cigarettes in the 50’s and often I would take my lunch money and buy cigarettes. At our high school we had a smoking tree and were allowed to smoke at recess if we did so at the tree. I smoked until 1974 when I was 33 years old, which was two years after I received Christ as my Savior.
Smoking is not a popular subject to preach on. In the South where so many people smoke and many have made their living producing tobacco if you mention it in preaching it can get you into a lot of trouble. I have occasionally mentioned it in the pulpit in my preaching, but this is the only full message I have ever prepared on smoking and have never preached a whole message addressing the subject. It has been my experience that across America in most churches there are those who smoke and rarely if ever do you hear it mentioned from the pulpit.
Smoking is on a lot of people’s mind and people have strong opinions about it. Several times in messages I used my personal experience as an illustration of how God helped me to overcome smoking. I used the illustration seeking to encourage others in letting God help them overcome difficult problems in their lives. Almost every time I got some negative feed back after the message from the smokers. Generally, the comments are:
1. The Bible has nothing to say about smoking.
2. It only hurts me and no one else.
3. I need to smoke because it calms my nerves.
4. It gives me pleasure and hurts no one else.
5. I know someone who smoked all their lives and did not get cancer.
Of course all these statements are false except that smoking does give a degree of pleasure.
Biblically the matter is very simple even though many would not like to think so. The subject however is complicated in practice as you are dealing with an addiction that is enjoyed by many people and something that provides the income a good number of professing Christians who either produce it or work in tobacco factories.
It is a matter close to my heart and I am not a stranger to the effects of smoking. My sister Lelia died a horrible death over a three year period at 47 years old from lung cancer the doctors said was caused by cigarettes. My father also died from emphysema partly caused by smoking after years using cigarettes and cigars. My grandmother died at 76 smoking at least a pack of Lucky Strikes a day and had a terrible hacking cough. Clearly smoking shorten her life. They all knew that smoking was harmful and several times when I tried to urge them to quit because I was concerned for their health, they became angry and offended, telling me to mind my own business. For twenty years I do not remember any time I did not see my dad without a cigar in his mouth or in his hand. My sister smoked constantly lighting one cigarette with another. All died untimely deaths and I miss them and believe they would still be here if they had not smoked. Both my two younger brothers are presently smokers and I know they are headed for the same fate.
Over the years as a pastor I had been by the bed side of many people who were dying as a result of smoking and I have conducted many of their funerals. I have watched people whose lungs were so badly damaged they could not live without oxygen, remove the oxygen tube, coughing and gasping for breath light a cigarette and smoke it between their rasping coughs. I have seen the horrible pain caused as tobacco caused cancer in its final stages as it ate through the bodies of people coming through the skin. I have seen the doctors increase the doses of morpheme until it had little or no effect on their pain. I have watched the pain of smokers having ugly fits of coughing and yet in a few minutes later light another cigarette. I actually have seen people put a cigarette to their trichotomy when because tobacco caused cancers were removed from their throats and they could no long breath through their mouth or nose. It is no fun to watch someone dying from cancer or heart disease when you know was totally preventable and was caused by their addiction to cigarettes. When I see a young or a middle age person smoking I see their future and it concerns me deeply to know what probably lies ahead for them. Tobacco is a slow but merciless killer that first debilitates its victim and them methodically destroys their lives all the while giving their prey a murderous pleasure.