We live in a world without self-control. If you have never tasted cigarette’s enslaving flavor, do not start today.
Some time ago, I had to transfer some money. The company I was using had an office in a nearby market. I entered and found the office, which was close to the cigarettes section! While standing there, I became amazed at the extensive selection of cigarettes this particular store carried. There was the interesting sign on a wall: “Warning: Smoking can cause cancer.” The attendant who was helping me also was in charge of selling cigarettes. I decided to ask a couple of questions.
“Ma’am, why do you think people spend money on cigarettes knowing that smoking kills people?” I asked the woman. She looked at me with surprise and said, “Well, they are crazy!” Then she quickly added, “But I don’t smoke.” I smiled and asked: “And why do you think this store sells so many cigarettes knowing that smoking kills people?” The woman took a deep breath and said: “Because people buy them.”
You don’t have to ask, but it is obvious that both groups—those who buy cigarettes and those who sell them—know that smoking is harmful. On one hand, dealers know this, but they also know too well that cigarettes are a “smoking business.” (A pack of Marlboro® costs $5 - $10, and the average user smokes a pack per day—spending $1,800 - $3,600 in cigarettes every year.) No matter how many people die every year, these unscrupulous sellers will continue to take advantage of the user to fill their pockets (cf. Deuteronomy 27:18; Proverbs 10:9; 28:6,20; Matthew 6:24; 7:12).
On the other hand, as the woman in the market suggested, dealers sell cigarettes because there are people who, despite knowing smoking harms, are “crazy” enough to pay the price! Of course, neither she nor I knew for sure what every establishment selling cigarettes thought about smokers, but the proposition made sense: If there are people who know that a product can harm their bodies and even cause their death and still spend large amounts of money to buy that product, then those people are acting, at least in part, based on some kind of “madness.”
But why will some catalogue those who smoke as “crazy”? Although this description may not be adequate, some facts about smoking will guide any impartial reader to conclude that there is some “craziness” going on.
- Globally, tobacco causes more than 7 million deaths every year, and it ends up killing about half of all users. Despite this, thousands of people start smoking every day; only in the U.S., each day more than 3,200 people younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette.
- Tobacco killed 100 million people in the 20th century. If this pattern continues, deaths will number around 1 billion in the 21st century. This is equivalent to killing the entire U.S. population in only 30 years!
- “Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, and is a main cause of lung cancer and COPD. It also is a cause of coronary heart disease, stroke and a host of other cancers and diseases.”
- “On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.”
- Although cigarettes have a high price, the percentage of smokers, at least in the U.S., is higher among those below poverty level (26.1% compared to 13.9% of people at or above poverty level.)
This list could be extended, but it is enough to conclude that smoking involves terrible risks and consequences—not only for the smokers but also for those who are exposed to second-hand smoking. (It is estimated that “600,000 non-smokers die each year from second-hand smoke worldwide,” and one-third of that number are children.)
Think about this: If I told you that you can pay me $5 - $10 daily for a product that can cause you health problems, prematurely kill you, and potentially kill those around you, would you hurry to give me money to buy the product, and then would you do the same every day until you die? This is exactly what millions are doing today when buying cigarettes!
Sadly, we live in a confused world which aims to satisfy personal desire. If you have never tasted cigarette’s enslaving flavor, do not start today. Even “a single cigarette produces enough smoke to alter genes in the lungs.”
If you are part of the group who has taken the wrong step and became entrapped by cigarette’s addictive force, or are using smokeless tobacco, know that there is hope. Quitting is hard, but not impossible with God’s help (cf. Philippians 4:13). Look for help from faithful Christians and your family. Read biblical passages that teach to take care of your body (e.g., 1 Corinthians 6:12-20), suppress the search of sinful desires (e.g., 1 John 2:16), keep your mind’s sobriety (e.g., Titus 2:12), and pursue your well-being and of others (e.g., John 10:10; Matthew 22:39); meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8). Look for professional help. Identify patterns and circumstances that causes you to want to smoke. Find additional information about smoking risks and follow the good advice of experts. Clean your room and car from any tobacco products. Drink enough water; eat healthy. Get involved in activities that clear your mind and keep you busy; exercise. Avoid “friends” who smoke and places where people smoke or tobacco is sold. Finally, don’t buy into the devil’s lie that “moderation” is acceptable; strive for total abstinence!
 Gardner, Amanda (2011), “Pack-a-day Smokers Declining,” CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/15/pack.smokers.now.rare/index.html.
 “Tobacco” (2017), World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/.
 “Fast Facts,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/, access date: October 24, 2017.
 “Smoking’s Death Toll,” The Tobacco Atlas, http://www.tobaccoatlas.org/topic/smokings-death-toll/, access date: October 24, 2017.
 “Smoking Facts,” American Lung Association, http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/health-effects/smoking.html, access date: October 24, 2017.
 Ibid, “Fast Facts.”
 “Burden of Tobacco Use in the U.S.,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/data/cigarette-smoking-in-united-states.html, access date: October 24, 2017.
 “Tobacco Statistics & Facts,” ASH, http://ash.org/resources/tobacco-statistics-facts/, access date: October 24, 2017.
 Kaplan, Karen (2010), “How Many Cigarettes Is It Safe to Smoke?,” Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/20/news/la-heb-smoking-20100820.