Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of death in the world. It is a universal ethical concept that prevention is better than cure. When it comes to smoking, most countries are faced by an ethical paradox: while many decades of research have provided incontrovertible evidence of the health hazards of cigarette smoking, the tobacco industry still flourishes, often with either tacit or overt government support. The ethics of smoking are made even more serious by alarming revelations about the deaths and health risks caused by second-hand smoke.
A serious question of international ethics is the exportation of cigarettes to developing countries, especially cigarettes higher in lethal ingredients than admissible elsewhere.
For over a century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has warned its youth and the general public regarding the addictive and health destroying nature of tobacco smoking. Cigarettes are a world-wide health hazard because of the combination of addiction coupled with the economic greed of the tobacco industry and segments of the marketing community. Seventh-day Adventists believe that the ethics of prevention require public policies that will reduce smoking, such as:
- A uniform ban on all tobacco advertising,
- Regulations protecting children and youth who are being targeted by the tobacco industry,
- Stricter laws prohibiting smoking in public places,
- More aggressive and systematic use of the media to educate young people about the risks of smoking,
- Substantially higher taxes on cigarettes, and
- Regulations requiring the tobacco industry to pay for the health costs associated with the use of its products.
Policies such as these would save millions of lives every year.
This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM) for release by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg, at the Annual Council session in San Jose, Costa Rica, October 1-10, 1996.