Should a Christian Smoke Tobacco or Marijuana?

By COGwriter

Should a Christian smoke cigarettes or cigars or pipes or marijuana? Is smoking dangerous?

Is smoking a sin?

What does the Bible teach? What do health experts teach?

This article will attempt to address these issues.

Health Dangers of Smoking

Is smoking harmless? Health experts say that it is not and that smoking kills.

The Surgeon General of the United States, for one example, warns that smoking causes a lot more health problems than increasing the risk for lung cancer:

January 17, 2014

A new report by the U.S. surgeon general warns that smoking cigarettes causes more health problems than previously thought.

The study, released on Friday, follows the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general’s landmark report that first confirmed smoking causes lung cancer.

The latest report said smoking can also cause conditions such as liver and colorectal cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even erectile dysfunction.

Since the 1964 announcement, which led to the start of the anti-smoking movement, U.S. smoking rates have gone from 42 percent to their current level of 18 percent.

Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak said the government may not reach its goal of reducing that rate to 12 percent by 2020, warning there is still a “major catastrophe going on.”

The report found that smoking has killed more than 20 million Americans in the past 50 years, and another 5.6 million of today’s children will die prematurely because of smoking, if current trends hold.

It also said there is not enough information about the long-term effects of increasingly popular electronic cigarettes. Some have used the so-called e-cigarettes to stop smoking. However, critics warn that they are deceptive, still dangerous and not effective as a cessation tool.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. The report said the U.S. spends more than $289 billion ever year on medical care and other economic factors linked to smoking.

Secondhand smoking was also identified in the report as increasing the risk of stroke by 20 to 30 percent.  http://www.voanews.com/content/cigarettes-cause-more-health-problems-than-just-lung-cancer-report/1832001.html

About one in five deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking causes about 90 percent and 80 percent of male and female lung cancer deaths, respectively. Men are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer if they smoke, and women increase their risk 13 times when they start the bad habit.

Smoking is killing a lot of people as cigarette production rises:

21 March 2012: Bloomberg

Tobacco use killed almost 6 million people last year and was the top cause of death in China, the world’s biggest cigarette market, the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation reported.

Four of every five deaths were in low- and middle-income countries, and 1 billion people may die from tobacco use and exposure this century if current trends continue, according to the report, released in Singapore today.

Tobacco-related deaths almost tripled in the past decade amid a 17 percent jump in cigarette production and increased affordability of the cancer-causing products in low-income nations.  http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-21/tobacco-use-killed-6-million-in-2011-cancer-society-says

If people realized how harmful many behaviors, and not just smoking, were, there would be a lot of positive benefits for society.

6 April 2017

Smoking causes one in 10 deaths worldwide, a new study shows, half of them in just four countries - China, India, the US and Russia.

Despite decades of tobacco control policies, population growth has seen an increased number of smokers, it warned.

Researchers said mortality could rise further as tobacco companies aggressively targeted new markets, especially in the developing world.

The report was published in the medical journal The Lancet.

"Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, one in every four men in the world is a daily smoker," said senior author Dr Emmanuela Gakidou.

"Smoking remains the second largest risk factor for early death and disability, and so to further reduce its impact we must intensify tobacco control to further reduce smoking prevalence and attributable burden."

The Global Burden of Diseases report was based on smoking habits in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015.

It found that nearly one billion people smoked daily in 2015 - one in four men and one in 20 women. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39510728

Smoking causes DNA damage:

November 3, 2016

Smoking leaves an "archaeological record" of the hundreds of DNA mutations it causes, scientists have discovered.

Having sequenced thousands of tumour genomes, they found a 20-a-day smoker would rack up an average of 150 mutations in every lung cell each year.

The changes are permanent, and persist even if someone gives up smoking.

Researchers say analysing tumour DNA may help explain the underlying causes of other cancers. ...

The study, in the journal Science, was carried out by an international group, including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridgeshire and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The analysis shows a direct link between the number of cigarettes smoked in a lifetime and the number of mutations in tumour DNA.

The authors found that, on average, smoking a packet of cigarettes a day led to:

Joint lead author Prof Sir Mike Stratton, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "The more mutations there are, the higher the chance that these will occur in the key genes that we call cancer genes, which convert a normal cell into a cancer cell."

The researchers said that in tissues such as the lung, which are directly exposed to smoke, they could find the mutational signature of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 60 are carcinogens. ...

Dr David Gilligan, consultant oncologist at Papworth Hospital and Roy Castle Lung Foundation trustee, said: "For every 150 mutations in the cell each year, that is 150 opportunities for lung cancer to develop.

"Lung cancer has been at the bottom of the survival league for many years, but there are many exciting developments, including immunotherapy and genetically targeted drug treatments." http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37849000

Smoking is not good.

Teenagers are Often Enticed to Smoke

Thousands in the USA try smoking every day, and about a quarter seem to get addicted to it:

Every day, almost 4,000 kids under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. An additional 1,000 adolescents make the move to become daily smokers.

“Our kids are the replacement customers,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Washington Posthttp://www.cbsnews.com/news/fda-launching-campaign-to-stop-youth-from-becoming-life-long-smokers/

To appeal to teenage boys, companies like Marlboro have tended to use images of tough, masculine appearing men.  To appeal to teenage girls, tobacco companies have tended to indicate that smoking is exciting and keeps one slim.

People are often enticed to smoke:

Hard to Refuse

Smokers find it hard to quit because it’s difficult to refuse offers of cigarettes from others, and taking offers of cigarettes is one of the most frequently cited reasons for initiating smoking, according to the research, which was supported by the National Cancer Institute.

Cigarettes are given as gifts in many societies and were frequently exchanged in the U.S. from at least the 1930s before falling out of favor in the 60s.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-05/buying-double-happiness-reveals-china-s-tobacco-battle.html

But smoking is bad.  Smoking is bad for the smoker.  Smoking is bad for those around the smoker.  The Bible teaches:

10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)

As far as death goes, notice the following report from January 27, 2014:

Actor Eric Lawson, once the face of Marlboro cigarettes, has died from respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), at the age of 72.

From 1978 to 1981, Lawson appeared in print ads as “The Malboro Man,” a rugged cowboy synonymous with the cigarette brand...

Lawson’s wife, Susan, told Variety that the actor had been a smoker through much of his life, starting at the age of 14, though he quit when he was diagnosed with COPD. “He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him,” she said in an interview with Variety. “He knew, yet he still couldn’t stop.”

Lawson isn’t the only former face of Marlboro to die from smoking-related diseases. Wayne McLaren, who appeared in Marlboro print ads, died of lung cancer in 1992, and David McLean, who appeared in print and television spots, died of lung cancer in 1995.  http://entertainment.time.com/2014/01/27/marlboro-man-eric-lawson-dies-of-lung-disease/

The tobacco industry knowingly sells and entices people to use an addictive poison –nicotine, which is part of why it is hard to stop.

Trying to warn teenagers about the short-term damage that smoking causes may be helpful according to some. Notice the following:

When it comes to persuading teenagers not to smoke, you have to think short-term, the Food and Drug Administration says...One graphic TV ad shows a teenager buying a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store and literally pulling out a tooth with a set of pliers to pay for them.

"What's a pack of smokes cost? Your teeth," the narrator says. "Smoking can cause serious gum disease that makes you more likely to lose them."

Other ads speak to teenagers' growing desire for independence by showing how the need to smoke can take over their lives.

Anti-smoking advocates say they're thrilled by the ads.

"For the first time the federal government is really using the same quality advertising agencies, using the same kind of research, that the tobacco industry has used for decades to market to kids," says Matthew Myers, who heads the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "However, this time they're doing it to discourage tobacco use among kids."  http://www.wbur.org/npr/271117790/wanna-smoke-it-could-cost-you-a-tooth-the-fda-warns-teens

The loss of a tooth may get teenage girls to think more than twice about taking up smoking.  The fact that smoking also causes premature wrinkling is something that young women also tend to wish to avoid.  While teenage boys probably will not be that interested in that, a way to discourage older males is to warn that ED is also associated with cigarette smoking.

Quitting Smoking is Good for You

Quitting cigarette smoking is good for your health.  A study out of the UK has quantified that for women:

Life expectancy was dramatically improved among participants in Great Britain’s Million Women Study who quit smoking compared with continuous smokers, confirming the previously uncertain benefits of smoking cessation in women, researchers said.

Although women who stopped smoking around age 50 remained at significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality compared with never-smokers (relative risk 1.56, 95% CI 1.49 to 1.64), it was much lower than the tripled risk of death seen in current smokers, according to Kirstin Pirie, MSc, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues…

“Stopping well before age 40 years would avoid well over 90% of the excess hazard in continuing smokers,” Pirie and colleagues wrote.

But, they stressed, “this does not … mean that it is safe to smoke until age 40 years and then stop.”   http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/Smoking/35605

Researchers who followed one million women found those who smoked a pack a day starting in their teens reduced life expectancy by an average of 11 years, according to a new study published in The Lancet. NBC’s Robert Bazell reports.  http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/49575213/#49575213

The sooner one quits, the better it is for one's health.

Comments from a Former Smoker

As far as smoking goes, here are some comments about it, by a former smoker, the late Hebert W. Armstrong (from his Autobiography):

In order to keep up with the job, due to inadaptability and resultant slowness, it became necessary to work nights. I established a system. I worked alternately one night until ten, the next until midnight, rising at 5:30 every morning. Time had to be taken out to walk the one or two miles from my room to the mill, and also to walk over to the boarding house where I took meals. I kept awake on the job nights by smoking a pipe — my first habitual smoking. In just six months this overwork and loss of sleep exacted its toll, and I was sent to the hospital with a very severe case of typhoid fever…

I had taken up pipe smoking during those long and frantic night hours at Wiggins, Mississippi, as an aid to staying awake while I worked over the books. I had smoked, moderately, ever since. However, I will say that I was never a heavy smoker. Never more than one cigar a day, or three or four cigarettes in a day. That’s the reason I did not have the battle many men have had in breaking the habit, when I saw that it had to be broken…

{Later} I was baptized, the matter of smoking had to be settled. Of course the Quaker church, in which I had been reared as a boy, taught that smoking was a sin. But I had been unhappily disillusioned to see that in so many basic points the Bible teaching is the very opposite of what I had absorbed in Sunday school. “I’ve got to see the answer to the tobacco question IN THE BIBLE!” I said to myself. Until I found the answer in the Bible, I decided I would continue as before — smoking mildly. I had continued to smoke lightly, averaging three or four cigarettes a day, or one cigar a day. I had never been a heavy smoker.

Now I had to face the question: Is smoking a SIN? I wanted the BIBLE answer, for I had learned by this time that Christ had said we must live by EVERY WORD OF GOD. The BIBLE is our Instruction Book on right living. We must find a BIBLE reason for everything we do. I knew, of course, there is no specific command, “Thou shalt not smoke.” But the absence of a detailed prohibition did not mean God’s approval. I had learned that GOD’S LAW is His WAY OF LIFE. It is a basic philosophy of life.

The whole Law is summed up in the one word LOVE.

I knew that love is the opposite of lust. Lust is self-desire — pleasing the self only. Love means loving others. Its direction is not inward toward self alone, but outgoing, toward others. I knew the Bible teaches that “lust of the flesh” is the way of SIN.

So now I began to apply the principle of God’s Law. I asked myself, “WHY do I smoke?” To please others — to help others — to serve or minister to or express love toward others — or only to satisfy and gratify a desire of the flesh within my own self? The answer was instantaneously obvious. I had to be honest with it. My only reason for smoking was LUST OF THE FLESH, and lust of the flesh is, according to the BIBLE, sin! I stopped smoking immediately.

This beginning of overcoming was not too difficult, for it had not been a “big habit” with me. Once weaned, I was able to see it as it is — a dirty, filthy habit. And today we know it is a serious and major contributing cause of lung cancer! God designed and created the human body. He designed the LUNGS to take in FRESH AIR to fire and oxidize the blood, and at the same time to filter out of the blood the impurities and waste matter the blood has picked up throughout the body. Befouled smoke, containing the poisons of nicotine and tars, reduces the efficiency of the operation of this vital organ.

The physical human body is, God says, the very TEMPLE of His Holy Spirit. If we defile this TEMPLE — this physical body — God says He will destroy us! God intended us, if we are to be COMPLETE, to live happy, healthy and abundant lives, and to gain eternal life, to take in HIS SPIRIT — not poisonous foreign substances like tobacco.

Hebert W. Armstrong died on January 16, 1986, at age 93 1/2. His reasons for quitting smoking make biblical sense to me--and he quit BEFORE the hazards of smoking became known by many. People should not smoke. It harms them and others around them.

He concluded, correctly, that Christians should not smoke.

One Way to Help a Smoker Quit

Notice one reported way to help a smoker quit:

September 9, 2013

Want a smoker to quit? Scare, shock or disgust him. That’s what the U.S. government did with its first federally funded anti-smoking ad campaign and, new data suggest, it worked.

An estimated 1.6 million Americans tried to quit and at least 100,000 likely succeeded as a result of graphic ads that showed how real ex-smokers had suffered paralysis, stroke, lung removal, heart attacks and limb amputations, according to a study Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first round of ads ran from March through May in 2012, followed by a second one this past spring. A third round is planned for next year.

The CDC created the startling ads after consulting with smokers, who urged it to make the statistics about smoking — that it’s the leading cause of preventable death and that it shortens life expectancy by 10 years — real. So it focused on the effects of smoking-related disease rather than the risk of death.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/09/cdc-anti-smoking-ads-prompt-100000-plus-to-kick-habit/2777357/

Of course, the smoker also has to want to quit. But realizing the truth about smoking should help.

Notice also the following from someone in the Continuing Church of God:

I have an unusual aspect of faith that I went through. I am a recovering alcoholic and smoker. When I first became a member of WCG in 1982 (I think), I smoked and drank. I knew I couldn't continue in the Church without repentance and therefore quitting. I prayed to God regarding smoking (drinking wasn't that bad in those days) and through His Word, I quit. After falling away (sometime in the late 90's, I think), I started smoking again and drinking became quite severe. I longed for the days when God was in my life (I know I was the one that left) when a friend of mine with similar feelings found the CCOG. We both immediately felt God said, "OK, here you go. Seek and ye shall find".

The problem was I was back smoking and drinking and knowing I couldn't continue with those habits. I was actually afraid to pray to God to quit smoking and drinking because I KNEW HE WOULD DO IT! I was scared to death to go without tobacco. The thought of having to deal with the irritability associated with quitting until my body was functioning normally was more than I wanted to deal with. The thought of night sweats and raw nerves until my body readjusted to no alcohol was really scarey. These feelings were real and they kept me from turning to God. I tried to quit smoking on my own, every minute was an ordeal. I tried to quit drinking on my own, I was wringing wet with sweat at night and my legs screamed with "restlessness". I lasted a couple of days at most each time I tried. It always reinforced my fear of praying to God for help because I knew He would help and I would have to go through the ordeal just described. I just kept putting off quitting because of fear.

I was so bothered by my behavior and knew I couldn't continue with the way I was going that I finally asked God to make me quit. He did, just like I knew He would. I threw my burden on Christ and said "here it's yours". Now I waited for the irritability of no cigarettes and the dreaded night sweats. They never came.

In my fear I forgot how merciful God is. I thank Him hour by hour for stopping me from smoking and drinking. I use this experience to try to let go of my fears in other areas and let the gift of God increase my faith.

Christians can ask God for assistance in stopping smoking. Christians need to have faith in God (see also the free pdf booklet Faith for Those God has Called and Chosen).

The Bible Gives Health Principles

While smoking is not specifically listed in the Bible, a variety of health principles are listed in it.

Notice some of what the New Testament teaches:

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

37…”‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Consider that smoking does not glorify God in your body–it harms your body. Consider that smoking also does not show love towards one’s neighbor–it harms your neighbor. Smoking is a sin against the body, and sometimes more than that.

Smoking is wrong, it is harmful, and it kills people. God wants people to change/repent (Acts 17:30)–which means that, despite its difficulties it can be done (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). The sooner one starts the better one will be. Christians should strive to not smoke.

As hard as it seems to be, smokers can change. Notice that the Apostle Paul taught:

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Jesus can help the smoker?

The Apostle Paul also specifically taught that Christians who had a variety of sinful practices can change (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Even Third Hand Smoking is Harmful

Did you realize that even 'third-hand' smoking harms health. 

What is that?

That is the residue of cigarette smoke on furniture, walls, ceilings, and floors. Notice:

Exposure to surfaces and objects that have been saturated in cigarette smoke, labeled as “third-hand smoke,” may be as deadly as smoking the cigarette itself.

A new study from the University of California, Riverside finds that the third-hand smoke that has soaked into the surfaces, objects and environment around people becomes increasingly toxic over time. Third-hand smoke is defined as the second-hand smoke that is allowed to settle on objects in any environment. Non-smoking children, co-workers, spouses and friends of smokers breathe in such carcinogens left in rooms exposed to smokers. http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2014/02/03/study-third-hand-smoke-exposure-as-deadly-as-smoking/

Smoking does not show love towards one's neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40) and harms oneself and others.

Should Christians smoke marijuana?

In certain respects, smoking marijuana is even worse than smoking tobacco. While many try marijuana and do not become addicted to other drugs, the fact is that almost all drug addicts began with marijuana.

Notice also the following from an old Worldwide Church of God booklet:

Marijuana and Tobacco

We've all read the statistics which show that every puff on a cigarette statistically takes x number of seconds off a person's expected lifespan. Yet over 500 billion cigarettes are smoked in the U. S. every year.

Marijuana protagonists enjoy exposing the hypocrisy of the average person's acceptance of cigarettes as compared with his emotional rejection of . marijuana. The nicotine in tobacco may be just as — or even more- physically addictive than marijuana.

And the carcinogenic tars in tobacco far out-kill anything presently known in marijuana...

Is the general public hypocritical? You bet it is.

Is tobacco more of a national health problem than marijuana? Obviously-and by a long shot.

But marijuana is coming on strong. And we must not allow the idiocy of our national attitude toward tobacco to justify the introduction of another, even more subtle killer. (New Facts About Marijuana. Ambassadir College Press, 1970)

Furthermore, marijuana is intoxicating.

Inhaling marijuana basically makes someone drunk.

The Bible repeatedly condemns drunkeness and activities associated with it:

18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty (Proverbs 23:21)

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14)

Smoking marijuana is sinful and not something that Christians should do. Marijuana has a variety of health risks associated with it. Here are some:

Many studies have looked at the effects of smoking cannabis on the respiratory system. Cannabis smoke contains thousands of organic and inorganic chemical compounds. This tar is chemically similar to that found in tobacco smoke, and over fifty known carcinogens have been identified in cannabis smoke, including; nitrosamines, reactive aldehydes, and polycylic hydrocarbons, including benz[a]pyrene.

There is serious suspicion among cardiologists, spurring research but falling short of definitive proof, that cannabis use has the potential to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Cannabis is believed to be an aggravating factor in rare cases of arteritis, a serious condition that in some cases leads to amputation. Because 97% of case-reports also smoked tobacco, a formal association with cannabis could not be made. If cannabis arteritis turns out to be a distinct clinical entity, it might be the consequence of vasoconstrictor activity observed from delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC. Other serious cardiovascular events including myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and cardiomyopathy have been reported to be temporally associated with cannabis use. Research in these events is complicated because cannabis is often used in conjunction with tobacco, and drugs such as alcohol and cocaine. These putative effects can be taken in context of a wide range of cardiovascular phenomena regulated by the endocannabinoid system and an overall role of cannabis in causing decreased peripheral resistance and increased cardiac output, which potentially could pose a threat to those with cardiovascular disease. (Cannibis (Drug), Wikipedia, viewed 02/14/14)

A 2013 literature review said that exposure to marijuana had biologically-based physical, mental, behavioral and social health consequences and was "associated with diseases of the liver (particularly with co-existing hepatitis C), lungs, heart, and vasculature". (Medical Cannibis, Wikipedia, viewed 02/14/14)

Marijuana is also considered to be a 'gateway' drug--one that encourages people to try other drugs:

Since the 1950s, United States drug policy has been guided by the assertion that cannabis use increases the probability of trying "harder" drugs...Almost two-thirds of the poly drug users in the "2009/10 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey" used cannabis. (Cannibis (Drug), Wikipedia, viewed 02/14/14)

Smoking marijuana is also illegal in many parts of world, as well as expensive.

In places like the USA, it appears it will become legal in more areas, this is a trend to look out for (see also Kentucky to move forward with marijuana production). More on marijuana is also in the article: Marijuana; Should a Christian get high?; here is a related video titled How Should a Christian View Marijuana?

Concluding Comments on Smoking

Smoking is selfish, smoking harms the body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), smoking is a lust of the flesh that Christians should not do (cf. Romans 13:14).

Smoking kills.

Smoking does not show love towards one's neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40) and harms oneself and others. Even the surface of furniture tainted by smoking is harmful.

Smoking cigarettes or cigars or pipes or marijuana should not be done by Christians (1 Corinthians 5:11). But the Bible shows that, even if you have done such things, you can repent and change (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Thiel B. http://www.cogwriter.com/smoking-and-christianity.htm (c) 2014/2016/2017 0406

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