Is It a Sin to Smoke?

Perhaps you have been smoking for many years—or for just a few weeks. Perhaps you have been considering trying out your first cigarette.

Chances are, you have wondered, Is it really OK to smoke? Nowhere does the Bible say, “Thou shalt not smoke”—but the question remains, what does God think about smoking? This is certainly an important question to ask.

God places monumental value on the human body. He created it, and He wants a say in how it is used. Through the Apostle Paul, He says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that the body is the temple of His Holy Spirit. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (verse 20). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” The Greek word for glorify means to make or esteem glorious, excellent or illustrious; to celebrate or acknowledge the dignity and worth of something.

That is a high standard. Many things people do to their bodies do not glorify God and are not done to His glory. If something makes us sick and weak, we need to reevaluate it. Smoking certainly qualifies. It is much harder to glorify God in your body when it is ailing from the effects of smoking. Even if you believe it does only negligible harm, smoking does not really glorify God.

Failing to glorify God in our bodies or to honor God’s plans for our bodies violates what Jesus Christ called the first and great commandment: loving God with all our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). “Soul” is referring to your physical life and strength.

You may think, My smoking doesn’t harm anyone else, so it is OK. But secondhand smoke, says the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, contains twice as much tar and nicotine, three times as much of a certain kind of benozopyrene (a carcinogen), five times as much carbon monoxide (which robs the blood of life-giving oxygen), and 46 times as much ammonia (a potent eye and respiratory-tract irritant) as the smoke that smokers inhale directly from cigarettes. Secondary smoke is potentially ruinous for the non-smoker living in a smoker’s environment. This is why many countries and many U.S. states have banned smoking in public places. Harming others breaks what Christ called the second great commandment: loving others as ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Romans 13:10).

Also, the implication of this commandment is that we must “love” our bodies, in the sense of being good stewards, and keep them in good health.

Smoking is lust.It is a means of satisfying a craving for self-gratification and an inordinate desire for something that damages the self. It therefore also breaks the Tenth Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet …” (Exodus 20:17).

If you have struggled with the habit of smoking, you’re not alone. But realize that you can utterly quit smoking!

The late pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong, was a smoker before his conversion. God helped him see that he needed to quit. “[I]mmediately after I was baptized, the matter of smoking had to be settled,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography. “‘I’ve got to see the answer to the tobacco question in the Bible!’ I said to myself.” He continued:

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!

Smoking is a sin. But like with any sin, it can be overcome—through effort, and with God’s help. If you need more help to quit smoking, read our free booklet Repentance Toward God. Prayerfully study the “How to Prevent Sin” section of that booklet, excerpted from one of Mr. Armstrong’s outstanding articles. You can also study our free booklet How to Be an Overcomer.