Why One Out of Five People in the World Smoke Tobacco

Could 1.2 billion people really be wrong?

It would be difficult to imagine unintentionally eavesdropping in Starbucks and hearing this conversation: “You know, I feel that I’m missing something in my life. Maybe I should start smoking?” While it is very unlikely to actually hear a person say those words out loud, consider the truth: Out of the 6.7 billion people living in this world, 1.2 billion people smoke tobacco. That’s 18% of the world’s population. Could one out of five people be wrong, worldwide? Maybe I’m missing out on something here.

Despite its obvious health risks (is it really a risk or is it more of an eventual definite outcome?), despite an often negative social stigma, despite addiction, despite the smell a smoker becomes accustomed to yet non-smokers find offensive, despite the fact that cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires and fire related deaths, and despite the fact it’s an expensive habit, still for every five people in the world (and our country), one is a smoker. Seriously, I want to know what I’m not understanding. Surely I’m not seeing the whole picture.

Poorer households and developing countries are more likely to smoke than middle to high-income households and developed countries. What should I learn from that? Do cigarettes give people hope? Or do cigarettes help a person better deal with having less than others? If I suddenly began making half my income, it’s difficult for me to imagine spending more money on a habit that would decrease my overall health. I clearly need to get hip with the program.

I believe it is wrong for our government to ban the cultivation of any plant God put on this earth. So if every plant has a purpose, what can tobacco be used for, other than smoking? Growing up, my parents kept a package of tobacco for when any of us got a bee sting- when applied on the skin, it absorbs the poison.

Speaking of poison, tobacco also is a natural pesticide. Speaking of pesticides, my parents use NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low to pour on ant beds. It is a deathly substance to ants. Conveniently, the worker ants carry the poison throughout the colony, eventually killing them all off. Rule of thumb: If a substance easily kills insects, it’s a good indication the product is not intended for human consumption.

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Christianity and Beer

Would Jesus drink beer?  Maybe the question is, did He?

Ironically, in the way that many Christians view alcohol consumption to be okay when in moderation, I feel the same way about other beverages- ones that contain no alcohol. A typical can of soda (or tall glass of sweet tea) consists of about 3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, not to mention the caffeine. Would I normally eat 3 to 4 tablespoons of sugar in one sitting? No way, that’s disgusting and totally unhealthy. Sugar is at the very top of the food pyramid and should be used sparingly. But that’s what soda is. And it’s so common. No “sin associations” either.

But it is extremely difficult for my conscience to deal with the thought that if the body is a temple, how consuming that much sugar all in the name of a common beverage is justifiable, especially compared to a single serving of beer or wine. Last night I drank two glasses of Dr. Pepper with some friends. And today I actually am a little ashamed that I did it.

And that is the power of taboo and its attached guilt. I feel bad about drinking soda, while someone else may feel halfway guilty about drinking some wine at a wedding. One person may be offended by me drinking a 12 ounce bottle of Blue Moon beer, but I may be offended by seeing someone drinking a liter sized bottle of Mountain Dew.

Both can be abused. Beer can cause drunkenness and alcoholism when handled irresponsibly (causing harm to self and others, possible to strangers). Drunkenness is an immediate warning that too much has been consumed. Sugary drinks do not cause drunkenness (but can also cause harm to self and others, through second hand poor dieting habits). Since no drunkenness is involved with sugary drinks, they have no immediate way to warn a person of the unhealthy dangers they can do to the human body when consumed too regularly.

I believe laws for drunk driving should be much stricter than they are. I disapprove of drunk driving as much as I loathe careless drivers and drivers that eat and/or text while driving. As much as I loathe murderers and perverts of every kind. Ultimately beer is one of those things like sex and money- wonderful, yet so easily can by used to corrupt, when mishandled.

Diet sodas, I don’t trust ’em. After learning that my parents pour a little bit of Sweet’n Low onto ant beds in their yard, which within a few days kills off the whole colony, I figure artificial sweeteners are left better off as a pesticide. The tiny ants’ bodies can’t handle the unnatural ingredients in the artificial sweeteners. Maybe my 5’ 9”, 170 pound body can, but it’s just not a drug I am willing to experiment with.

Juice that is actually 100% natural (no added sugars or dyes) is bearable, but also has a high content of sugar. So if I do drink 8 ounce servings of juice, I realize that I have to consider the sugar content just as I would a normal beverage.  That is equal to a few tablespoons of sugar.  But if the fruit is eaten in its whole form, the fiber of the fruit itself absorbs the sugar so that it does not count as our actual sugar intake for the day.

So for me, I’m not left with many drink choices or dinner. I do drink a minimum on 3 liters of water throughout the day. But in addition to water with my evening meal, I often have a bottle of good beer (not anything cheap that can be easily found in a can, not anything with the word “lite” in its name, not anything that is advertised through funny commercials during the Super Bowl).

I can enjoy the simple formula of the drink that has been enjoyed since Biblical times (it was brought to America by the Christian Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock). Water, barley, yeast, and hops (from the small family of flowering plants called Cannabaceae, in which cannabis is also a member). Beer contains no fat or cholesterol. Studies show then when consumed regularly in repsonsible amounts, beer can help the body fight against stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, to name a few benefits. When it’s consumed responsibly, it’s healthy and good. When it’s abused, it’s unhealthy and dangerous. Too much of anything usually isn’t a good thing anyway.

So did Jesus drink beer?  It’s obvious He drank wine.  Beer has been around since at least 9,000 B.C.  and was discovered/invented in Egypt, so I’m sure He had easy access.  Since it wasn’t taboo for His culture to responsibly drink alcohol, I would actually be surprised if Jesus didn’t drink beer.  But again, wine has a high alcohol content than beer anyway.  Choose your irony.