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Can Mormons smoke?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church, has strict guidelines regarding tobacco use. The Word of Wisdom, a health code included in the Doctrine and Covenants, prohibits the use of tobacco. This means that Mormons are expected to completely abstain from smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vapes, or using any other tobacco products.

The Word of Wisdom on Tobacco

The Word of Wisdom, a section of the Doctrine and Covenants originally given as divine revelation to Joseph Smith in 1833, contains the following admonitions regarding tobacco:

  • “Tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.” (D&C 89:8)
  • “And again, tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.” (D&C 89:8)

This revelation made clear that tobacco should be avoided and that its proper use is limited to medicinal application for sick animals, not human consumption.

Strict Prohibition on Smoking

In accordance with the Word of Wisdom, Mormon leaders have repeatedly and forcefully spoken out against smoking and tobacco use of any kind. Smoking has been strictly prohibited for members of the LDS church.

For example, in his well-known youth pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth,” former LDS President Ezra Taft Benson declared:

The use of tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee, and of harmful drugs damages your body, and keeping the body healthy is an important step in keeping your mind sharp and clean. Stay away from tobacco, beer, wine, liquor, tea, coffee, and drugs…

Likewise, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated in a General Conference talk:

Tobacco is not good for man. It is a cause of great addiction. It enslaves the user…Tobacco will destroy your body and shorten your life. It will rob you of self-control. It will brutalize your senses. Its use leads to the indulgence of other harmful drugs…My brethren and sisters, young and old, please avoid tobacco as you would a plague.

Such talks and guidelines leave no doubt that smoking is seen as incompatible with LDS standards and membership in good standing.

Doctrinal Basis for the Prohibition

The prohibition on tobacco stems from core LDS doctrinal beliefs about the human body and health practices:

  • God created our bodies, and we have a sacred duty to care for them and treat them as temples.
  • We must avoid anything that defiles or pollutes our bodies.
  • Smoking harms the body and shortens life.
  • We must obey the Word of Wisdom as a sign of faith and loyalty to God.

Violating the tobacco prohibition is seen as physically and spiritually damaging. Mormons take it very seriously as a strict commandment that they must follow to be worthy and in good standing.

Status of Smokers in the LDS Church

Because smoking is completely prohibited, active tobacco use is grounds for restriction of privileges in the LDS church. Smokers may be deemed unworthy to enter LDS temples, hold leadership positions, or fully participate in services.

However, Mormons recognize that addictions are difficult to overcome. Smokers who sincerely strive to live the Word of Wisdom and quit using tobacco are encouraged to meet with their bishops to work on abstaining from smoking and returning to full fellowship.

Some key considerations regarding the status of Mormon smokers include:

  • Smoking is grounds for exclusion from temple worship.
  • Smokers cannot hold leadership positions or serve LDS missions.
  • Smoking may be cause for informal probation or formal church discipline.
  • Abstaining from smoking is required to be considered in good standing.
  • Sincere efforts to quit are generally met with patience and support.

Overall, smoking is incompatible with full participation but efforts to quit align with Mormon beliefs, so smokers who actively work to quit using tobacco can often still be members in good standing.

Support for Quitting

The LDS church recognizes that many people investigate Mormonism while struggling with tobacco addictions. Local Mormon leaders and members are instructed to welcome these investigators with patience and support.

Likewise, long-time members who pick up smoking are treated with compassion. Bishops will often provide counsel and work with smokers on quit plans. Additional resources to support quitting include:

  • Addiction recovery programs
  • Literature, videos, and self-help guides
  • 12-step groups, therapy, and nicotine replacement options
  • Fasting and prayer for strength to overcome addiction

The LDS church emphasizes that the desire to repent and follow the Word of Wisdom is what matters most. While smoking is prohibited, the church actively supports members in quitting.

Exceptions and Complex Situations

In some exceptional cases, local Mormon leaders may exercise discretion with smoking members:

  • Recent Converts: New members with tobacco addictions are given time to adjust.
  • Teens: Youth experimenting with occasional smoking may not face formal discipline.
  • Addicts: Struggling, sincere members working to quit can remain in limited fellowship.
  • Medical Use: Medicinal marijuana may be permitted in rare cases under doctor oversight.

Additionally, the use of e-cigarettes, vaping, smokeless tobacco, and cannabis in legal jurisdictions has created complex situations without definitive guidance. Local leaders have significant discretion in working with members on these issues.

Prevalence of Smoking Among Mormons

Due to the strict prohibition, smoking rates have historically been much lower among Mormons compared to general populations in the same regions:

Year Smoking Rate: Mormons Smoking Rate: General Population
1965 12% 42%
1975 10% 37%
1985 8% 30%
1995 5% 25%
2005 2% 21%

Rates have fallen over time among both Mormons and general populations. However, smoking among Mormons has remained 4-10 times lower than national averages.

Teen Smoking Rates

The Mormon prohibition on smoking also appears to dramatically impact teen smoking rates. A 2010 study in Appetite journal found:

  • 4.2% of Mormon teens were current smokers
  • 24.8% of non-Mormon teens in Utah were current smokers
  • 28.3% of Catholic teens were current smokers
  • 31.2% of mainline Protestant teens were current smokers

These figures indicate the LDS policy results in exceptionally low teen smoking rates compared to other religious groups and the general population.


In summary, it is abundantly clear that smoking is completely prohibited for practicing Mormons. This stance against tobacco derives from unique LDS health teachings and the desire to care for one’s God-given body.

Smoking results in exclusion from privileges of full participation. However, the church offers support to members who sincerely strive to quit. While smoking is incompatible with Mormon life, the church approaches smokers with patience, compassion and resources to help them quit.