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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Is cigarette smoking sinful?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

First, note that the following appears under "Respect for health" on the Vatican Website...

"Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good." (Ref. Vatican Website/"Catechism of the Catholic Church")

And...

"The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine." (Ref. Vatican Website/"Catechism of the Catholic Church")

Therefore, it seems that smoking in moderation may not be absolutely forbidden. However, who smokes in moderation?

Also, we know that smoking poses grave health risks, as even the cigarette packages state. Yet under the Fifth Commandment we are to take "proper care of our own health"...

"We are commanded by the fifth Commandment to live in peace and union with our neighbor, to respect his rights, to seek his spiritual and bodily welfare, and to take proper care of our own life and health." (Baltimore Catechism)

Besides the cigarettes potentially harming the smoker's own health, there are also other concerns with respect to smoking...

* Smoking may become addictive

* Smoking can harm other people (e.g. second-hand smoke)

* Smoking can do damage to furniture and other necessary possessions (to the smoker's belongings and to others' as well)

* Smoking is an expensive vice (wouldn't the money be better spent on charitable works?)

* Smoking may place a heavy burden on the smoker and on society (e.g. for medical care, insurance)

* The odor from smoking can be unpleasant/bothersome for other people (and may even cause those already addicted to cigarettes to crave them, even those who are trying to give up smoking)

One might also consider...

* Whether smoking cigarettes is fitting for a person made in God's image

* Whether smoking cigarettes is fitting for a temple of the Holy Spirit

* Whether smoking might prevent one from best serving God & one's neighbor

* Whether smoking may destroy a gift of God (good health)

* Whether smoking is a wise use of one's health, resources, time, etc. ...

"...what use do we make of our mind, of our memory, of our health, of those limbs which He gave us to serve Him with?" (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Whether smoking might hinder one's ability to love God...

"To love the good God with our whole strength is to employ our possessions, our health, and our talents, in serving Him and glorifying Him." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Whether it is appropriate to ask God daily for one's bodily health & other needs while simultaneously undermining one's own health

* Whether smoking nourishes the soul or potentially brings harm to it (e.g. for reasons given herein)

* Whether smoking might result in medical issues that may take one away one's family sooner (e.g. one's spouse, children)

* Whether smoking might result in one having less time on earth to atone for sin

* Whether one's smoking brings harm others (e.g. spouse, children, coworkers, roommates, etc.)

* Whether, given the known risks, smoking cigarettes might be a bit like a slow suicide (although that is probably not the intent)

* Whether smoking cigarettes is truly rational, or rather is the person being guided by mere inclinations of the body, like an animal

* Whether all the chemicals involved in cigarette smoking help or harm one in being "pure in soul and body" (not to mention possibly harming the environment)

Further, consider that...

* Whatever benefit you may find to smoking, isn't it true that there are other licit options to obtain those same benefits that don't involve the serious drawbacks of cigarette smoking?

* Assuming you have a true mental picture of Our Lord Jesus Christ & the Blessed Virgin Mary and you wouldn't picture them smoking (God forbid!), then you shouldn't do it either, right?

* Smoking is not needed for life so people can definitely live without smoking

* You wouldn't want a beloved child or parent to smoke would you? So how do those who truly love you feel about your smoking?

* If you were potentially to cause all the health risks to someone else that you do to yourself by smoking, wouldn't it be sinful? So why is it not sinful if done to yourself?

Given all the above, wouldn't it be best to stop smoking?

Should you commit yourself to stop smoking, note that it may be possible to turn this past vice into a positive by making this mortification of the body a sacrifice for God. Plus you might feel better, enjoy better health, have more money, and live longer after you stop smoking.

In the meantime, it might be wise to consult a good priest regarding whether past smoking was sinful or not (either venially or mortally sinful).

Note: We are not intending to give, nor qualified to give, medical advice. Consult a good doctor(s) for medical advice.

+ + +

"But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 9:27)

"Do not let us be led by our appetite; we shall ruin our health, we shall lose our soul." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Do those worldly persons love the good God, who seek only to gratify their body and to please the world?" (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 6:19-20)

"Oh, how bitterly shall we regret at the hour of death the time we have given to pleasures, to useless conversations, to repose, instead of having employed it in mortification, in prayer, in good works, in thinking of our poor misery, in weeping over our poor sins; then we shall see that are Christians labor for nothing but to satisfy this body, which will soon be buried and corrupted, while they do not give a thought to their poor soul, which must be happy or miserable for all eternity." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)


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