I don’t smoke, and nobody close to me smokes either, so it’s not a burning issue for me, honestly. It does bother me to see parents smoking right in front of their kids, but do I feel I ought to say something about it? Hmm, I’m not so sure.
As I understand it, smoking is an addiction that everyone knows is bad for you, but is very difficult to stop. If people smoke outdoors away from the kids or hide or put out the cigarettes when children approach, then I at least give them credit for trying. If I were to bring up the subject in conversation, I could try, “Oh, how long have you been smoking?” and “I hear it’s really difficult to stop. Have you ever tried?” or “What do they kids think of your smoking?” That may open them up to sharing their real struggles with quitting, or they might get defensive and tell me it’s none of my business. What if someone thinks I allow my children to eat too many sweets? Do people have the moral obligation to point out the health risks of fats and sugars in the diet? I see these health issues as similar because the health risks are long-term, influenced by many genetic and environmental factors, that may affect whether disease does or does not result. In my opinion, smoking and poor diet are not as clear cut as child abuse, where one strikes a child and they bruise or break an arm, etc.
Unfortunately, our children will have many opportunities in life to see people doing things they really shouldn’t be doing. And those are our chances to start conversations, in particular on the health hazards and addictive nature of smoking, and more in general on people’s free will choice to “know, love, and serve God” or not. In my opinion, the issue of smoking is NOT the most clearly-cut case of immoral actions, so I’d argue that one from the health and justice towards others (secondhand smoke) angle rather than from the religious/ theological morality angle, although I realize the latter argument could be made.