First, note that the
following appears under "Respect for health" on the Vatican Website...
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")
"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
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
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
* Whether smoking cigarettes is fitting for a person made
in God's image
* Whether smoking cigarettes is fitting for a temple of the
* Whether smoking might prevent one from best serving God &
* 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)
* 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
"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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