By Johnie Edwards
Many have taught against the use of tobacco over the years as a health hazard being harmful to the body. Yet, many members of the church smoke and try to defend such by saying it’s not habit forming, and they could quit if they so decided. Let’s take a look at some recent things which have been brought to light concerning the use of tobacco.
The Story Of Bill Tuttle
Bill Tuttle used to be a young, vibrant, gifted major league baseball player who toiled eleven seasons for Detroit, Kansas City, and Minnesota. Now Bill is 66 and lucky to be alive. He’s beaten the cancer for now but tells you it could return any-time. He can’t taste, has no teeth and has trouble talking and hearing. Not long ago, he couldn’t even sip a glass of water. Blame it all on spit tobacco. Tuttle chewed almost nonstop for 38 years. Doctors say that’s what caused the cancer that was discovered in 1993. Surgeons removed the largest malignant mouth tumor they’d ever seen during a 13-hour operation the first of six. He told the Pirates about those operations, showing them his scary-looking face and gaunt body as he tells about the dangers of spit tobacco, which comes in the form of chew and snuff. He pulled up his shirt to display a hole in his stomach where he used to get food when his mouth and throat were shut off. The hole remains in case there is an emergency and he has to use it again. I ask, is it worth all this?
Nicotine, A Drug
The FDA treats nicotine, found in tobacco as a drug. In fact, it is a cancer-causing, habit-forming addictive drug. According to an article in the March 18, 1996, USA TO-DAY, Pirates outfielder, Orlando Merced, who chews tobacco, called using tobacco a “deadly habit.” Recent re-ports in USA TODAY, March 19, 1996, said that “Philip Morris Tobacco Company manipulated nicotine levels of cigarettes.” Smokers get hooked on nicotine just like people get addicted to other drugs. Evidently the tobacco companies know that cigarettes without nicotine would not sell!
The Liggett Group
The Liggett Group, makers of Chesterfield Cigarettes, according to the March 16, 1996 Bloomington, IN Herald Times, “agrees to second huge settlement of as much as $2 billion.” This huge amount is payment to resolve a lawsuit involving tobacco-related illnesses among residents of five states. Evidently Liggett would not have make such an offer if they did not believe that tobacco causes cancer, heart problems, and other related diseases! About 130,000 die annually of tobacco related diseases.
Young People And Tobacco
3000 kids begin smoking every day. That’s about 3 million each year. It is illegal to sell tobacco to minors. One young lady was heard to say, “I smoke.” A by-stander replied, “No, you do not smoke, the cigarette smokes, you are just the sucker.” How true this is. Young people need to heed the divine advice that Paul gave young Timothy. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tin. 4:12). Young people need to have the courage to tell the tobacco industry that they do not intend to let them despise their youth and ruin their health. Because some young people want to try and impress others with this deadly habit, you don’t have to. Since tobacco is a drug, young people just need to learn to say “no” to this tobacco-drug also.
Need For Self-Control
It has been suggested that about one-third of all tobacco users are addicted, for, they say, they would quit if they could. Such have let tobacco become their master and they the slave. Paul told the Romans, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom. 6:16). The Bible teaches the need for temperance. Peter said that one of the items Christians must add to their faith is “temperance” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Peter went ahead to say, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Pet. 1:8-9). If we expect to have “an entrance . . . ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:11), we must learn how to say “no” to some things. The apostle Paul expressed self-control this way, “But I keep my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor.9:27).
An Expensive Addiction
Lost work days due to illness, hospital and nursing costs, much at taxpayers expense, are staggering. A lot of tobacco users smoke more than three packs per day. Multiply the cost by the number of packs you smoke and see how costly it is to you. A lot of church members, who smoke, spend far more on their tobacco-addictive-cancer-causing drug than they give toward the work of the church on the Lord’s day. And this is sad.
Our Bodies And Tobacco
Our bodies, in part, are what we put in them. Even tobacco users, are harmed by the use others make of it. I conducted a funeral for a fifty-three year old lady a few years ago, who never used tobacco in any form, but whose husband was a chain-smoker. Her doctors said that her lungs looked as if she had been the chain-smoker! She died of lung cancer. And yet, there are those who say, it’s no body’s business but mine if I use tobacco. Really? Our physical body houses our eternal spirit and we are responsible for it. The Holy Spirit said, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-29).
“Each year, there are more deaths and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable cause. Of the two million U.S. deaths each year, one in four is attributable to alcohol, illicit drug or tobacco use: More than 400,000 people die due to tobacco; 100,000 people die as a result of alcohol; illicit drug abuse, and related AIDS deaths account for at least 19,000 deaths” (Substance Abuse Report, Oct., 1993).
The same report goes on to say, “A person dying from alcohol-related causes looses, on average, 26 years off the normal life span; drug-related causes, over 37 years; and smoking related causes, about 20 years. One American dies every 1 1/2 minutes from the effects of tobacco” (A Healthier You, p. 186).
I ask again, Is it worth it?
Guardian of Truth XL: 12 p. 12-13
June 20, 1996