Smoking and the Spiritual Life

Okay, so to be clear this is NOT another post that the morality of smoking.

But, I do want to ask the question of what the proper place of smoking is in one’s life. I suppose that tobacco should only be used virtuously for the glory of God. In this case, should it only be a communal thing, such as a cigar while having a good conversation with a friend? Or myself, I like to relax, smoke a cigar, and do my spiritual reading once a week. I do not feel as if its right to smoke, for the sake of smoking. I feel as if it has to help facilitate or lead to some good. Agree? Disagree?

But then, what about cigarettes? Is it not virtuous (sinful is another question!) to smoke a cigarette just for its own sake? I really don’t believe that there’s any good that a minute of tobacco can help facilitate. Then again, maybe even this could be used in the praise of God somehow.

With all of this in mind, to not use tobacco can be offered up as a penance, right? Perhaps not partake in it on Fridays, or the soon to be here seasons of Advent and Lent. I mean, it is a legitimate good that we can use, so I’m also assuming that it can be “given up” as well for reasons of asceticism.

But even speaking more generally, where does smoking fit in with the spiritual life? Can it be different for each person? G.K Chesterton and Pier Frassati are two figures that might be useful to look to? Thoughts?

Assuming you’re asking this question on behalf of yourself, and not because you’re trying to convince your mom, brother, or child not to smoke, then all you have to be concerned about is your own smoking. I would suggest not worrying about where your neighbor’s smoking fits into their spiritual life and just concentrate on your own.

You said you smoke a cigar once a week. This would seem to be in moderation.
Assuming you can afford the cigar, and your doctor has not given you a strong warning against a cigar once a week, and you are not dependent on the cigar in order to be able to go about your business, then it doesn’t sound like a big concern.

If you want to go without your cigar and “offer it up”, fine, but it seems like it’s just a once a week thing, so not much of a “give up” since you barely smoke.

Regarding habitual smokers trying to give it up for penance, many priests have told stories suggesting that this is probably not the best penance because the people tend to get so cranky they make everybody else do penance putting up with them. Also, because heavy smokers are usually addicted, most of them would be better off getting some kind of addiction treatment, which might be a nicotine patch or some other behavioral modification program. There are folks who can quit cold turkey, but a lot of people can’t. It’s usually not a good idea to try to give up an addiction for penance because it’s confusing a medical issue with a penitential issue and it can lead to a lot of mixed up and bad feelings if you “fail”. Better to choose something that you can more easily choose to give up.

And yes, obviously it’s different for each person. The fact that we have many saints who smoked or used tobacco, and many other saints who never did, attests to that.

4 Likes

Nothing quite like a good cigar!

2 Likes

It was about forty years ago, maybe even less, that the health campaign against smoking began in earnest. Until that time, nobody had ever suggested there was anything sinful about smoking. In a public place, whether indoors or outdoors, wherever there were people smoking, you would see priests smoking like everyone else, without ever attracting criticism of any kind. It’s only because of the perceived health risk that smoking is now seen as not a good thing to do. There’s certainly nothing “unspiritual” about it in any way.

3 Likes

What does this even mean? :woozy_face:

6 Likes

Pipe tobacco is much sweeter. And, smoking a pipe adds 10-15 points to your percevied IQ. The difficulty is keeping quiet so that you do not erase that perception.

13 Likes

I’m not sure how one can smoke virtuously for God when tobacco damages your body which i a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Sinful or not sinful is one thing but I don’t know how smoking could ever be virtuous

2 Likes

An exception might be the peace pipe. And indeed, we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, so the purpose enters in, certainly.

1 Like

The poison is in the dose.

I don’t know how much it takes to harm one’s health. Presumably, one cigar every few years won’t really hurt you, for instance. An addiction or reliance on smoking would clearly be bad. But how quickly does it harm the body? This is an issue with the harm to health question.

I’ve never smoked and just smelling cigarette smoke has me feel a pain in my chest, it’s pretty gross in my opinion. I don’t wanna encourage bad habits, but it is always important to remember that the poison is in the dose.

Actually, smoking has gone in and out of moral favor over the centuries. And even when it was accepted that a man might have a smoke after dinner, it was considered morally bad as well as poor etiquette for a woman to smoke during the 19th century in USA and well into the 20th century. Smoking was one of the things that “independent” women did to rebel back in the 1920s, 30s etc. Unfortunately it helped kill quite a few of them off, such as my aunts, who both died significantly younger than my mother, who had decided to be the maverick in her social circle by never smoking though everyone else did. She thought it was dirty and smelly and then when a high school girls’ club blackballed her for not smoking, she got mad and never did it, and lived to be 89.

2 Likes

I think it is a good deal more than merely perceived.
And yet here I am thinking about going back to a pipe after 40 years.

2 Likes


I smoke my pipe because it tastes good. It smells good too!

4 Likes

Well, someone knows what He’s doing.
What tobacco do you like?

2 Likes

Do you drink?

If you drink for the enjoyment of drinking good liquor it’s hardly a sin and God forbid you drink something nasty if you do drink.

I smoke pipe tobacco and cigars because I enjoy the flavors, smells, the craftsmanship of the pipe and the relaxation it brings me while I take in the world that God created.

Smoking is an experience just like drinking is an experience you don’t drink to get drunk or at least you shouldn’t and you don’t smoke to get a head rush or at least you shouldn’t.

These are experiences that we partake in and enjoy the world around us I like to sit on my porch.

Maybe we drink and smoke around friends and family enjoying each other’s company hardly anything wrong with that.

I talk to my friends on CAF and on Pipe Den Forum.

There’s also the difference from a hobby or something we enjoy vs a habit or addiction.

3 Likes

This is a very good blend. Probably my favorite.

Haunted Bookshop is very good too! But it’s strong :grimacing:

2 Likes

Yes brother the Burley rises…

2 Likes

Bayou Morning

There’s two versions ribbon cut and flake.

I just bought the flake haven’t tried it but I really love the ribbon cut.

I’m on my second tin of Bayou Morning ribbon cut but smoking a tin can take me about a year I don’t smoke everyday or every week.

I also like Haunted Bookshop, Half And Half, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Black Cavedish was my main staple for years until I ventured into other types of pipe tobacco.

Sutliff Pumpkin Spice is also good… The Pumpkin Spice Must Flow…

2 Likes

Apocalyptic rocker Warren Zevon sang: Life’ll kill ya’

Different pipe for each tobacco?

3 Likes

Yes especially if you smoke Bayou Morning, Haunted Bookshop, or really any strong blend.

If you smoke different stuff all the time no problem but some blends can ghost a long time.

I ghosted my Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman Corn Cob with Bayou Morning so bad that it’s permanently a blend for Perique.

I have some pipes for my Bright Virginia and Burley and one pipe dedicated to English blends like Presbyterian and Voodoo Queen which I’m going to try tonight.

All my older pipes are for aromatics.

1 Like
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.