Using tobacco while praying?


Is there anything wrong with using tobacco while praying? I, unfortunately, dip (smokeless tobacco) and if it is wrong to pray while dipping, them that would cut out several hours throughout the day where I cannot pray. I never really considered it until last night when my wife mentioned that I should wait to pray the rosary until I was done with my dip.


A joke a Jesuit once told comes to mind…
"It is good to smoke a cigar while praying the breviary, but bad to pray the breviary while smoking a cigar."
EDIT: I may have messed up the anecdote. See post 7.

Dont allow the dip to become the primary thing you are doing- keep your focus on prayer.

Additionally, I would encourage you to try to drop that habit ASAP. Dip is muy no bueno…


I actually heard the opposite.


The Jesuit story? I may have switched the wordingaround by accident…



What are y’all’s thoughts?


I am a very light smoker (2 cigarettes a day) and I always say a decade of the rosary while I’m smoking and drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It has become a morning ritual for me, to help wake up and center my day on God. So obviously I don’t think praying while using tobacco is wrong. We can pray while we brush our teeth or drink a double scotch neat, too.

I think the issue is that so many people now think that tobacco and all its uses are morally wrong, or even evil. They aren’t. Moderation is important, but God created tobacco so it is good, and there’s nothing wrong with using it.


The gist is this:

“Is it permitted to smoke while praying?” “Of course not, that would be inappropriate.”
"Is it permitted to pray while smoking? “Of course it’s permitted, why not?”


God created and called the plants good. It doesn’t automatically follow that what we do with it is good. Considering it’s a well-known carcinogen both from smoking and dipping, it would be a good thing to abstain from during Lent or better yet, permanently.


I don’t think it has anything to do with tobacco actually. Substitute eating a sandwich for instance. Some would say there is a different intent between:

I am saying the rosary, I think I will have a sandwich while I do that.


I am eating a sandwich, I think I will say the rosary while I do that.


Right, but meat is a well-known carcinogen too, and nobody seems to think eating it is wrong… IMO, tobacco gets unfairly picked on.


I think tobacco and meat are in completely different leagues as far as causing cancer is concerned. I think that to think otherwise is to delude oneself.

They don’t put “Eating Meat Kills” on the packaging of packets of meat here in the UK the way they put “Smoking Kills” on cigarette packaging. I don’t think this is done without good reason.


We really should try to remove all distractions when praying. That’s the ideal.

Most of the time, we fall short of the perfect ideal.

The old joke (already posted) about we can’t smoke while praying but we can pray while smoking actually says more than we might think at first. There’s some wisdom there. On the one hand, we should not do something else while praying. We should devote that time entirely to God. On the other hand, if we also pray while we’re doing something else, then that’s a good thing.

I mean: imagine a brick-layer who says a Hail Mary every time he places a brick and he’s constantly praying the rosary during his workday. I can’t imagine anyone for faulting him for that (quite the contrary). So he shouldn’t lay bricks while praying, but he can pray while laying bricks.

We should indeed set aside time every day to pray. Enough time, not just some fleeting moments.

Still, the more we pray while distracted, the more we grow spiritually (we hope) until we reach the point where we really do not want anything to distract from the prayer. That’s something that comes gradually.

It takes time. Better to have a distraction during prayer than not to pray at all. The more we pray, the more that priority takes over.


We have to start somewhere, but true praying is not a set method, its an evolving “dialogue”.

We are told to pray always, 24 hrs a day. That suggests that those who finally get it can do so under any conditions.

How we get to that level of “casual” absorption in God in all things is likely different for everyone.
However it does seem to involve not being reliant on any one thing or technique be it smoking, soft music, nice scenery or a comfortable chair.

I believe the only sure answer is loving God an our neighbour with all our strength …

I always liked the Cure of Ars story about the old man sitting in the Church.

I also like the Buddhist saying about enlightenment:
Beforehand its about carrying water and chopping wood.
Afterwards its about carrying water and chopping wood.
The change is within.


In traditional Evangelical communities in the countries of ex-Soviet Union for example are very strict on smoking, and for that, you can be excommunicated out of Church or put in Church discipline-worning.
It is interesting that preachers sometimes quote the preacher of Spurgeon, but Spurgeon smoked tobacco like a chimney.
He even seems to have died of lung cancer.
Yes, but in those ancient times believers did not know about the harm of tobacco to human health, and now everyone knows about this harm.


I pray while dipping but I also will try to pray without dipping. If having to not dip would cause me to not pray that would be worse. It isn’t a huge distraction for me because it is an old habit. I really should work on breaking my attachment to dipping. Praying while dipping could actually help this. So I certainly don’t want to give up praying just because I’m dipping.


If I pray the Rosary I wait to chew until I’m done. Offer that sacrifice for your or someone else’s intentions. I go through a can a day and holding off for a half hour or hour isn’t going to kill you.

I don’t chew during my daily prayer time either, but I will chew or smoke a pipe during the Examen or while doing some spiritual reading.

In one instance I find it a distraction (having to spit AND recite the mysteries just feels wrong). In the other case it isn’t. That’s what I’d go by.


I also use smokeless tobacco. But when I pray I do not.


sounds distracting to be honest
(from an ex-smoker)


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