Honoring our temples with tobacco


In the spirit of living out what we learn in the classroom, I resolutely hold that the University of Dallas should be counted among the thousands of universities in America advocating for the end of smoking.

A current movement discouraging smoking has blown out past conceptions regarding the practice. 

In the Sept.18 issue of The University News, Anna Forgét wrote how Senate Bill 21 changed the smoking age to 21 rather than the previous 18. After the passage of this bill, smoking is a necessary topic of conversation on any Texas campus, but on ours especially.

“Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body,” according toaccording to the Victoria State Government’s Better Health Channel. “Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco smoke that causes people who smoke to continue to smoke. Along with nicotine, people who smoke inhale about 7,000 other chemicals in cigarette smoke.”

“As of July 1, 2019, per our Smokefree and Tobacco-Free U.S. and Tribal Colleges and Universities list, there were at least 2,375 100% smokefree campus sites,” said The American Nonsmoker’s Rights (ANR) Foundation.

College campuses all over America are fighting for their students’ health. Public, non-religiously affiliated universities are actively teaching their students of their worth and the importance of making intentional decisions regarding themselves and their peers. 

The revelation regarding the harsh truths of smoking, including the physical, mental and spiritual effects smoking has on one’s body, should make students of a liberal arts college seriously deliberate the matter. 

As readers of Aristotle and Aquinas, we are not only taught about the intrinsic value of our bodies and souls, but we are also told to bring that wisdom out of the classroom and to live our lives in keeping with the education we spend thousands of dollars to cultivate. 

With our government, fellow universities and leaders of the scientific field encouraging us to rethink our habits, we should objectively observe our attitudes as the leaders of our generation. As a Catholic university that teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, it is preposterous that we are not among those advocating for this change.

Along with public schools, fellow Catholic universities have been partaking in this movement to eradicate smoking. Among these are Benedictine College, Thomas More College, and University of Mary (ND) — all schools on the Cardinal Newman list of recommended Catholic universities along with UD. 

As well as our fellow Catholic scholars, Pope Francis himself has spoken out about the effects of smoking. The Holy See has banned the selling of cigarettes in the Vatican.

Director of the Holy See Press Office Gregory Burke said that the Holy See “cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people,” according to a statement released on Nov. 9, 2017. Despite cigarettes being a source of revenue for the Holy See, “no profit can be legitimate if it puts lives at risk,” according to the statement.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “the virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine.”

Many of us interpret this passage of the Catechism lightly, allowing ourselves to binge-eat snacks from PDK or smoke “moderately.” We make excuses, entitling ourselves to pleasurable decisions that are not in fact necessary for us to rest or socialize. 

If our Holy Father can say “no” to a habit rampant in Europe and providing a sizable influx of money to the Vatican, then we can say “no” to a habit we believe to be making us look independent, classy or “cool.”

The attitude towards smoking at UD, and especially towards smoking pipes and cigars, is this: because Tolkien, Churchill, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis etc. smoked and were sophisticated, we have reason to follow in their footsteps. 

These people we respect and whose books we read were sophisticated and are regarded as such because of the content of their brains, not the objects in their hands. Just because someone held in high regard happens to hold a certain habit or lifestyle, even if they were proud of it or advocated for it, we do not have a reason for actions that are clearly less than aiming for excellence.

Smoking cigars or pipes is also excused by the fact that it is not as detrimental to one’s health as cigarettes. However, the object of one’s life should not be to do what is fine, not bad or avoid what could be worse. 

One should strive for excellence, not adequacy, in all aspects of one’s life.

As Aristotle said in his Nicomachean Ethics, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

May we uphold the principles we stand by in every facet of our lives, lest they go up in smoke.


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