Another major component of the Word of Wisdom is the prohibition of tobacco. While we often think of cigarettes, tobacco in any form can cause addiction and disease.
I was appalled when I was in the hospital giving birth to one of my children and people in the room across the hall were smoking. My daughter’s brand new lungs inhaled cigarette smoke and I was quite unhappy about it. I even spoke to the city council afterwards in an effort to pass a city ordinance that banned smoking in the hospital. Fortunately, states have now passed laws prohibiting smoking in public places, including hospitals, schools, and restaurants. While people have the right to smoke, I choose not to and I don’t want to breathe in second-hand smoke because someone near me wants to smoke. I think that denies me the right to breathe smoke-free air.
When I was a young girl, before I joined the Church, my paternal grandmother smoked. She’d take us out to lunch and we’d sit at the table inhaling all of her smoke. I detested going to lunch with her because I couldn’t stand the smoke. It burned my eyes, made my nose run, and made me cough. Long before I knew about the Word of Wisdom, I’d formed my opinion of smoking. I thought it was nasty.
I can remember advertisements, before they were banned, for cigarettes. The women always looked so elegant and beautiful. They had long fingers with manicured nails that seemed to balance a cigarette just right, while their pouty lips were painted with the perfect shade of lipstick. I never recall seeing ads of haggard-looking women with wrinkled mouths and yellowed teeth. Those ads were so deceptive and, I’m sure, seduced many young people into smoking cigarettes.
Chewing tobacco wasn’t popular when I was a teenager. Maybe it was the era or maybe it was where I lived. I remember a young man who transferred into our high school. He was spitting this disgusting brown junk on the ground while he spoke to my friend and me. I was repulsed and had no idea what he was doing. When I finally learned he was chewing tobacco and then spitting out his browned saliva, I was even more disgusted. I can’t imagine why chewing tobacco holds any kind of appeal for anyone.
Besides the obvious health issues, another factor with tobacco is its addictive property. Anything addictive is harmful to our spirit because we no longer have free agency to make choices. Once our physical body has become dependent on any substance, we have lost the very power that we were granted at birth, the ability to choose.
While tobacco is big business, it’s also harmful and destructive. It’s far better to never give way to the addiction, but even those who become dependent on tobacco can once again enjoy freedom from addiction. Once smokers stop smoking, their health outlook increases dramatically. Even more importantly, the freedom to choose is restored.
I will continue to examine the Word of Wisdom. Stay tuned . . .
Return to the neighborhood.
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