By Don Potts
One of the most common evils and gripping habits one can deal with, is the use of tobacco. Brethren also know that it is one of the touchiest subjects a preacher can deal with. For this reason, preachers have learned to leave it alone, declaring that it will do no good to preach on the matter. Could it be what they mean to say is, it will do them no good? It is strange how preachers can lift their bold (?) voices against some sin ,hat no one in a hundred miles is guilty of, or scold the young people for writing notes or chewing gum in services, but never seem to get around to reproving the sins of those who put the bread on his table! “Do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
The use of tobacco is no small thing, nor is it a matter of opinion! It is without a doubt, a sin. To sustain this proposition may I set forth two syllogisms and then endeavor to give the proof to substantiate the arguments.
The First Syllogism
(1) It is sinful to harm the physical body (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
(2) The use of tobacco IS harmful to the physical body.
(3) Therefore, the use of tobacco in human consumption is sinful!
The Second Syllogism
(1) Those guilty of sorcery or witchcraft. will be lost (Gal. 5:19-20).
(2) Those who use or administer for use, nicotine are guilty of sorcery.
(3) Therefore, those who use or administer nicotine will be lost.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the use of syllogisms, let me make this brief explanation. In the syllogistic form of argumentation, you have a major and minor premise and a conclusion that is drawn from these two premises. In order for the conclusion to be true, both premises must be true. The only questionable thing about these two syllogisms would be the minor premises. Let us see if they are true or false.
The questionable part of the first syllogism is the matter of whether or not tobacco is really harmful to the human body. Dr. Alton Ochsner, noted cancer expert, director of surgery of the Ochsner Foundation Hospital and professor of clinical surgery at Tulane University in New Orleans has made the following statements: “The implication is, as with the government, that there is still no definite proof cigarette smoking is harmful.
“And believe me, the tobacco people capitalize on this all the way. The AMA is supposed to represent us, the doctors. And there are no fewer than a handful of doctors who don’t recognize the fact that cigarette smoking causes cancer and these are very likely the ones bought off by the tobacco industry.
“. . . We have the Proof. We’ve had it for years and it’s overwhelming. A respectable medical man would have to be a fool not to recognize it.”
“Each cigarette he smokes he shortens his life 34.6 minutes. ‘The pack a day smoker pays with 11 1/2 hours for each pack he smokes.” “Habitual cigarette smoking, is suicidal. If one must commit suicide, it would be easier to put a pistol to the head and pull the trigger. It’s quicker, far less painful and far less expensive.” (Houston Post, Tuesday, July 21, 1959, National Insider, Vol. 7, No. 1, July 4, 145).
I could give other doctors and other statements but if a man is honest this will be sufficient. Dr. Ochsner, former president of the American Cancer Society states in no uncertain ternis that tobacco is harmful and even fatal to the user. I maintain the minor premise of our first syllogism has been sustained.
Our second syllogism status that to use or administer nicotine (in tobacco) is a practice of sorcery or witchcraft. First, let us define the term sorcery or witchcraft. Joseph Henry Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon renders the word “Pharmakeia” (Greek)-” a.-the USE or the ADMINISTERING of DRUGS. . . (caps mine, D.P.), page 649.” So, to use or administer drugs is a practice of sorcery or witchcraft of which Paul said,”that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). The question we must answer now is the relationship of sorcery and nicotine in tobacco. Dr. Richard H. Overholt, a Boston chest surgeon said: “the body of the long term smoker requires a replenished supply of nicotine for a feeling of well being. He is a victim of drug addiction. ” Dr. Alton Ochsner said: “tobacco is poison . . . it is as harmful and addictive as any drug, perhaps even more so.” “Rather than subsidize tobacco, it might be better to subsidize the growth of poppies for opium. In the long run I think it would be less harmful.” “This powerful poison is the source of all the ‘pleasure’ derived from smoking. It touches off the mechanism by which the adrenal glands release quick energy from the liver and muscles. You do get a ‘lift’ when you light a cigarette. But it’s exactly like the lift you get from cocain, heroin, marijuana (Gene Tunney, Readers Digest, December 1941). The reason for, the habit forming effects of tobacco is explained by the Encyclopedia Americana as “clue to its content of nicotine and related alkaloids.” Dr. Chevaher Jackson said; “The nicotine alkaloid is harmful. The insatiable craving for cigarettes created by their constant use is the result of the constant repetition of the toxic effect of the narcotic, nicotine, upon the nervous system. Once the tobacco habit gets a grip upon the nervous system nobody, that I have ever seen, could limit his use of tobacco to ‘a little.’ “Dr. Jackson says that nicotine is an alkaloid, a narcotic that is, a drug! Therefore, any one who either uses, raises or sells tobacco for human use is guilty of sorcery or witchcraft, and the Holy Spirit says such cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven (Gal. 5:19-21).
Still, in the face of these indisputable facts, brethren continue to “puff” on their cigarettes and want you to believe that they are as pious as Peter. In the words of that familiar cigarette commercial: “We would rather fight than switch (or quit-D.P.).” Someone has described the situation like this:
“King Nicotine is my Shepherd; I shall cough and pant,
He maketh me to smell like a Billy Goat;
He lures me along paths of wickedness.
He controlleth my soul.
He weakens me in the times of sickness for “desire’s sake.”
Yea, tho’ I walk thru’ the valley of dingy smoke clouds,
I will still have my smokes; for that’s what I live for;
My stubborn will and stale smoke are part of me.
Thou preparest a dirty environment around me in the presence of all my acquaintances;
Thou has coated my lungs with coal tar;
Mv heart runneth overtime.
Surely unmanliness and a sickly pallor shall follow me all the days of my conscience stricken existence.
And I shall be a “victim of circumstances” forever.—Selah
Brethren, I ask, which will you choose, “King Nicotine” or “King Jesus?” “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, diat both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).
Truth Magazine XX: 40, pp. 635-636
October 7, 1976