Faithlink Discussion: Tobacco: Do No Harm
by Jacob Juncker
My grandmother (my dad’s mom) went to meet the Lord on Wednesday, July 2, 2008. She was 79 years old. Her health had been in a steady decline for about 7 months. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and it quickly spread throughout her body. My grandmother was not a smoker, but my grandfather was. I have fond memories of him opening his tobacco pouch and him allowing me to smell the sweet aroma of his cherry blend tobacco. My grandfather eventually stopped smoking, quitting cold turkey after a “not so good” doctor’s appointment. Years after my grandfather had stopped, though, my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. As she sought answers, one of her many questions was “why is this happening to me? I shouldn’t have lung cancer, I have never been a smoker.” As I read this week’s Faithlink, I was reminded of my grandmother’s question. The doctors could never say for certain what really caused the cancer, but I am convinced that she believed it to be the result of my grandfather’s smoking.
My other grandfather (my mom’s dad) was a life-long smoker. He had multiple medical conditions which forced him to live hooked to an oxygen tank. He had very little energy. I don’t really remember my grandfather. He lived in Texas which is a long way from Indiana. I only really remember visiting with him once. We drove to Texas with some cousins. I got sick from all the smoke in the house and was forced to take a lot of Benadryl just to breathe while in his home. Due, I believe, to his failing health–a direct result of his smoking–my grandfather committed suicide.
John Wesley’s rules are, as the writers of this week’s Faithlink point out, an excellent guide for personal conduct, especially when thinking about the effects of smoking on the self and others. This argument was never used by John Wesley to promote smoking cessation; however, he did use it in his defense of temperance. Grain, he argued, was being wasted on distilled spirits when it could have been used to feed the hungry. I think, he would have–had he had the same knowledge of secondhand smoke that we do–argued against smoking in the same way. Smoking is hazardous to everyone’s health: the person smoking and those whom he is around. Smoking and secondhand smoke increases the chance of illness. It also greatly increases the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Smoking is harmful to everyone’s health which is why I am a big advocate for smoke-free public spaces. What you do when you are alone in your home is your own business, but when you’re habits begin to hurt others, its time for an intervention.
Are you curious about how smoking affects the economy in Indiana (I’m sure there are similar organizations in every state)? Check out the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program’s Fact Sheets.
Smoking is widespread. According to this week’s Faithlink, nearly one person in five smokes. I encourage you to remember, in an attitude of prayer, those you know of who have died or suffered because of tobacco use. Today, I remember my grandmother on my father’s side and my grandfather on my mother’s side. May they rest in peace.