Tobacco and Human Efficiency by Frederick J. Pack (1918)

From Books in Word of Wisdom Literature by Jane Birch

Pack_Tobacco and Human EfficiencyFrederick J. Pack, Tobacco and Human Efficiency (Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1918).

Interestingly, this book was not expressly written for an LDS audience, though that must have been the main audience. It was published by the LDS Church and copyrighted by the Prophet, Joseph F. Smith. Frederick J. Pack was Professor of Geology at the University of Utah. The book is a well-written analysis of the harmfulness of tobacco. It draws heavily on the science of the day, but it also uses lots of narrative, quotes, and stories so it is quite engaging. Only the final chapter addresses the explicit connection with the Word of Wisdom. Br. Pack wrote frequently for Church magazines. In 1918, he wrote the article, “Should Latter-Day Saints Drink Coca-Cola?” for the Improvement Era that some mark as having a major influence in convincing many Mormons that caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom.

Link to complete text of book; Link to last chapter.

Table of Contents


Composition of Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke 1

Poisonous Factors of Tobacco 9

General Physiological Effects of Tobacco 23

The Smoker and the Smoked 33

Cigarettes Especially Objectionable 40

Are Men Immune? 49

Tobacco and Alcohol 57

Tobacco and Disease 65

Physical Activity 97

Tobacco and College Scholarship 111

Attitude of the Business World towards Tobacco 131

Social Aspects of the Tobacco Habit 148

The Cost of Tobacco 155

Tobacco Especially Harmful to Boys 171

Acquiring the Habit 180

Influence of Smoking Clergymen 191

Cigarettes, Ambition and Reliability 200

Tobacco and Scholarship in the Grades 211

Tobacco and Juvenile Delinquency 220

Combatting the Tobacco Evil 232

Women as Affected by the Tobacco Habit 255

Tobacco and Spirituality 268

Margins of Success and Failure 276

The Master Man 287

Tobacco and Our Soldiers 298

Attitude of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints toward the Use of Tobacco 311


Several years ago the writer conducted a party, consisting of nearly forty college men, in a geological examination of a Nevada mining district. During the afternoon of the second day of reconnaissance work it became necessary in the mapping of some general geological features to ascend the principal mountain of the district. After a brief conference at the base of the peak the men started off. The group soon thinned out into a long knotted line, such that when those at the head had gained the summit those at the rear were scarcely more than half way up the slope. The writer reached the top with the first small squad, and while awaiting for others to arrive he talked leisurely with those about him concerning various more or less important subjects. Some one in the group ventured the query as to why certain men were always in the rear, and another asserted that in this case they were all smokers.

Although the matter was discussed but briefly and then dropped, it started the writer upon a long line of observation. At first he placed but little confidence in the opinion expressed by one of the men that even a moderate use of tobacco incapacitates a man for strenuous mountain climbing, yet the subject seemed so vital that he determined to keep it in mind. During the following week the writer made note of the fact that almost without exception the same men were late in reaching camp night after night, and strangely enough they were nearly all smokers. It seemed probable, however, that this might be accounted for on the assumption that they had leisurely strolled into camp while enjoying their pipes.

Some time during that week the work outlined for one of the clays was completed slightly later than mid-afternoon. It was suggested by some one that the party take a “hike” over the hills to a spring probably five miles distant. The entire party agreed and was soon off. Before half a mile had been covered the competition of youth had brought every individual into a swinging run. The course was not marked by path or road but extended over rolling hills here and there interrupted by narrow steep canyons and deep ravines. In about one hour those who had kept the lead reached the spring and then waited in the scanty shade of nearby cedars for others to arrive. After waiting for probably half an hour, and when scarcely two thirds of the party had reached the spring, the return trip was begun. The stragglers were picked up at various points along the homeward course.

That night after supper the matter of the “hike” came up for discussion, and those who did not reach the spring came in for no little criticism at the hands of their companions. The reasons given, however, seemed ample: One had separated from the group and lost his way; another had sprained his ankle; another had broken a shoe lace: another had stepped on a cactus plant and stopped to remove the spines; and another had remained behind to assist a companion. The fact, however, that practically every man who had failed to reach the spring was a smoker, made a deep impression upon several of those present.

Experience with various groups of college men year after year gradually brought the writer face to face with the fact that smokers are far less active in field work than are non-smokers. They almost invariably fall behind in long marches and quick steep climbs. Whether, however, this is due to inability or disinclination is quite another question.

On a subsequent occasion the writer conducted another party of college men over one of the desert mountain ranges west of Great Salt Lake. Upon getting off at the nearest railroad station it was learned that the expected conveyances had not arrived and that the party would have to walk some seven miles to camp. No time was lost in getting started, as the sun was then but a short distance above the horizon and the path was but poorly marked and unfamiliar to every member of the party.

The group started off on a brisk walk which almost immediately changed into a swinging run. The writer fell into one of the rear groups so that he might study at first hand the attitude of smokers toward long strenuous activity. Note was made of the fact that immediately after the running began every pipe disappeared—a thing which of itself has a remarkable meaning. For the first mile none of the men showed marked signs of lagging, but from then on the smokers gradually fell farther and farther into the rear. For the purpose of learning whether they were faltering because of inability or indisposition the writer tried in many ways to encourage them to greater exertion. The response at first was good, but of short duration. The writer ran for more than a mile side by side with a strong robust fellow and encouraged him at practically every step. Finally he sank to the ground and explained that it was absolutely impossible for him to go further. Other smokers were overtaken, but each one in turn gave up the race and walked slowly toward camp.

That night the first group of men to reach the cabin consisted wholly of non-smokers, then came a single smoker, then more non-smokers, then smokers and non-smokers and finally smokers alone. The last men to come in were fully an hour behind the leaders. The writer’s experience with the smokers on this occasion impressed him very strongly with the belief that they remained behind primarily because they could not help it. He had seen them again and again resolutely spring forward and quickly lapse apparently through sheer fatigue.

Another opportunity for the testing of this particular point presented itself the same season. During the course of a trolley ride to the field it was observed that nearly one-half of the men were indulging in the use of tobacco. Theretofore no mention had been made of the fact that the writer had been comparing the ability of the two groups, but on this occasion attention was called to the matter. The men were informed that in the opinion of the writer the smokers would not be able to endure with the non-smokers over the veritable wash-board of mountains marking the path of the return trip. At first the smokers did not seem to take the matter seriously, but after some discussion among themselves they resolutely announced their acceptance of what was in reality a challenge of their physical manhood.

Throughout the day remarks were frequently made of the coming contest, for which every man appeared eager. About three hours before sunset the homeward trip of some ten miles across the mountains was begun. For two or three miles the men remained side by side. On one occasion when a short stop for “wind” was made the smokers tauntingly remarked that during the next “heat” they were going to sprint ahead and leave the non-smokers in their “dust”. But when the next rest came several of the smokers had fallen behind and did not catch up before the party was off again. Then came the real test of endurance; the country changed from rolling hills to a series of long, steep, mountains, alternating with sharp canyons. The full seriousness of the test seemed to be borne by every man. Conversation ceased, all available energy apparently being conserved for the physical demands of the moment.

The result of the day’s trip revealed nothing unusual. That night as the first squad, consisting of eight men, climbed through the campus fence the writer asked as to how many used tobacco. Seven were complete abstainers and the remaining one said that he probably smoked an average of one cigar per week. The individuals who immediately followed were practically all non-smokers, and as usual those in the far rear were smokers.

Of recent years the writer has had a wide variety of experience with various groups of college men engaged in geological field work, and in every instance, where intense physical activity has been brought into play, the smokers have shown their inferiority. Furthermore, the matter has become so well established in the mind of the writer, that no surprise whatever is occasioned when the smokers begin to lag, in fact it is expected that they will do so.

The reason for this inferior physical activity is without doubt at least two-fold. In the first place the narcotic effect of tobacco actually reduces desire for activity, and in the second place actually destroys ability. Experience has overwhelmingly convinced the writer that smokers have far less desire for physical activity than have non-smokers and that they are far less able to indulge in it.

Readers of the foregoing brief statement may recall some instance in which a smoker has shown greater endurance or strength than a non-smoker, and in consequence, may feel that there is good reason for differing with the writer’s conclusion as stated in the next preceding paragraph. It is important to bear in mind however, that in such a matter as this, conclusions should never be drawn when but few individuals are engaged. In order to obtain reliable results large numbers must be involved. It is here pertinent to note that no case has ever been reported in which a large group or smokers has shown greater physical endurance than similar group of non-smokers, while the reverse of this everywhere holds.

Physical inferiority among tobacco users has now become so well known that they themselves commonly admit it, but they try to avoid the personal application of a general truth by asserting that many individuals are immune to its poisonous action. They argue that while certain individuals with weak constitutions may suffer from the use of tobacco, others more robustly built are not adversely affected by it, and, strangely enough, such defenders almost invariably consider that they themselves belong to the exempted class. As a matter of fact, it seems to be very difficult for a smoker to believe that he himself is seriously handicapped by the habit. Young smokers very commonly resent any imputation of their physical deficiency, and even after absolute demonstration is made are slow to accept the facts.

The point of vital importance in this immediate connection, however, is: “Are the deleterious effects of tobacco upon men limited to the physically weak and to others of special idiosyncrasy, or do the effects reach out to every individual no matter how robust he may be?” For the purpose of ascertaining facts bearing upon this matter the present writer recently collected data from a large number of athletic coaches relative to the physical condition of football men, both smokers and non-smokers. The results thus collected from American universities show that smoking is associated with an average reduction in lung capacity amounting to 9.2%. Inferiority is shown not only in the average of all institutions reporting but also in those of every team. The full significance of these facts can properly be estimated only when it is borne in mind that the men here involved represent our extreme height of physical perfection. When tobacco robs our most robust men of practically ten percent of their lung capacity there certainly can be no question of its ill effects upon all others.

Athletic coaches universally prohibit the use of tobacco to all men in training, and the men themselves not only readily accede to the regulations but they admit the wisdom of such. One of the least understandable things in this connection is that an athlete who is fully acquainted with the necessity of abstaining from tobacco while in training, should permit himself to return to it after the season is over. The fact certainly holds that if tobacco is bad for an athlete while in training it is equally bad for him while out of training.

The effects of tobacco do not strike alone at physical efficiency. It has now become a demonstrated fact that its use in institutions of learning is everywhere accompanied by low scholarship. The results are the same in the grades, in the high schools and in the colleges. Literally scores of investigations in various sections of the country have failed to report a single exception.

The scholastic standing of smokers, as revealed by examination of college and university records, averages close to ten per cent below that of non-smokers. At first thought it may appear that this inferiority is not sufficient to count for much in the matter of success or failure. It cannot be stated too positively, however, that in these days of close competition, the great bulk of mankind are making or losing on margins much smaller than this. An individual who today can make a mouse-trap or an ocean-liner, a few percent better than his closest competitor is assured of success.

One should probably not be too hasty in concluding that simply because low scholarship is associated with tobacco that the latter is solely responsible for the inferiority. It is now commonly argued by defenders of the habit that smokers are not mentally inferior because of smoking but that they smoke because of lower initial mentality. Even though the admission is a most uncomplimentary one, yet many tobacco adherents are willing to make it rather than abandon the habit. Then again, they often argue that at college the social class is made up largely of smokers, that attention to society detracts from scholarship, and, therefore, that smokers fall below non-smokers primarily because of the greater demands upon their time outside of school.

Both arguments are interesting, and both probably contain some merit. It should be borne in mind, however, that investigations in which all of the subjects were eating the same kind of food, carrying the same amount of college work, getting the same amount of sleep, and taking the same amount of physical exercise have shown that smokers fall below non-smokers in scholastic standing. Furthermore, through the employment of simple devices, it has recently been demonstrated that even in case of those accustomed to the habit, the smoking of a single cigar is followed almost immediately by a reduction of mental ability amounting to practically ten percent.

Tobacco is now being condemned from a wide variety of sources. Manufacturers are coming to believe that men who use tobacco, especially in the form of cigarettes, are not as proficient as those who abstain. Bankers regard cigarettists as undesirable, largely because of their reduced moral and social sense. Educators everywhere report low scholarship as a close associate of the habit. Juvenile court officials are almost a unit in the belief that tobacco is a strongly contributive factor in juvenile delinquency. Merchants discriminate against cigarette smokers in the employment of boys and young men for responsible positions. Many physicians and hospital surgeons are disclaiming against the use of tobacco, especially in the form of cigarettes, largely because of the damaging effect it exerts on practically every vital organ of the body. And then the masses are condemning it because of the pronounced impairment of the social sense in a large majority of those who use it. There are, of course, a great many excellent men who have not as yet aligned themselves against the tobacco evil, yet during the past few years their number has very materially decreased.

It is of course apparent that many men who use tobacco have made remarkable success even under its handicap, yet it cannot be doubted that their work would have been much easier, happier and more effective without it. Such men seem to have been successful not because of it, but in spite of it.

In the following pages the writer has attempted to outline fairly and without prejudice the findings of modern investigation touching the matter of tobacco and its influence on man’s efficiency In putting these truths into writing effort has constantly been made to avoid giving offense to the great army of splendid gentlemen who use tobacco and who are trying to respect the rights of others. Any apparent discourtesy on the part of the writer should be credited to his enthusiasm in a subject which he believes to be of vital importance to the human family, and not to any intentional desire to offend or to invade the rights of others. 





The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, frequently called the “Mormon” Church, was organized in the state of New York on the 6th day of April, 1830, practically 88 years ago. From the outset the Church distinguished itself from other religious organizations by a large number of characteristic doctrines, chief among which was that of continuous revelation. The Prophet Joseph Smith, founder and leader of the organization, declared to the world that he had talked face to face with the Father and the Son several years before the Church was organized, and that upon numerous subsequent occasions he received direct revelation from God relative to the welfare of the Church and its members.

The Church from its beginning has maintained an active missionary system, resulting in a gradual, and at times, rapid increase in the number of its adherents. The early membership consisted entirely of new converts principally from other religious organizations, who, naturally enough, retained many of their former practices, especially those not discountenanced by the Church.

It is not at all surprising, moreover, to learn that many of the early members brought with them habits, such as the use of tobacco and alcoholic beverages, to which they had been accustomed before their conversion. Scarcely three years after the Church was organized, however, the members were given, through direct revelation from God, some very definite instructions concerning these and other habits, and since that time the Church has never ceased to wage a vigorous campaign against them.

The following quotation from the Doctrine and Covenants constitutes a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833 at Kirtland, Ohio, which at that time was the headquarters of the Church:

“A Word of Wisdom, for the benefit of the Council of High Priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the Church; and also the saints in Zion.

“To be sent greeting — not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom, showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.

“Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.

“Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation,

“That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

“And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

“And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

“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.

“And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man.

“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

“Yea, flesh also of beast and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

“And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

“All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

“And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

“All grain is good for the food of man, as also the fruit of the vine, that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground.

“Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beast of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones,

“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;

“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint;

“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.

For the reader’s convenience the writer has taken the liberty of placing in italics that part of the revelation that particularly applies to our present discussion.

It may be well to make note of the fact that at this early date the Lord did not offer the Word of Wisdom as a direct “commandment or restraint”. On the other hand, he did offer it as the “will of God”, and said that compliance with it would be “pleasing” unto Him. There has never been any room for any question in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to their duty in this matter. Whatever is the “will of God” and “pleasing” unto Him constitutes sufficient reason for strict compliance with every detail.

It should also be noted that the Word of Wisdom was given to “all” of the saints, and that it was “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints who are or can be called saints”. The marvelous promises based upon compliance with the Word of Wisdom and “obedience to the commandments” will receive some attention in later paragraphs.

It should hardly be expected that the tobacco habit, and other habits condemned by the Word of Wisdom, would immediately be abandoned by all Church members, even though they knew that it is the “will of God”. No one knows the difficulty of laying these habits aside quite so well as those who have acquired them and have tried to give them up. Then again church membership always includes some who are not staunch and fullfledged.

It is to the great credit of the Latter-day Saints, however, that immediately after receiving the Word of Wisdom, vigorous steps were taken to see that its terms were complied with. Almost as a unit the elders of the Church, who had previously indulged in objectionable practices, abandoned them and at once set out to convince the laity that they should do likewise. The response as a whole must have been gratifying, for vast numbers of the Church membership immediately complied with the call of their leaders.

It is of course natural that here and there individuals failed to give heed to the admonitions of the revelation, and, furthermore, that some who had at first abandoned their habits later returned to them. It seems that the leaders adopted a policy of leniency, hoping that time and forbearance would enable everyone to live up to the requirements of the will of God. And in this they were largely successful, for as years passed the percentage of Church members using tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and other objectionable substances gradually decreased. This condition was quickly brought about notwithstanding the fact that large numbers of converts were continuously being added to the Church. At the present time there is unquestionably no other similar body of men and women in the world who are as singularly free from objectionable habits as are the Latter-day Saints.

These results, however, were not attained without careful and continuous work on the part of the Church leaders and an unbending desire on the part of the laity to comply with the full pleasure of God’s will. In the early days of the Church, delinquent members were urged to “keep the Word of Wisdom”, but there seemed to be very few cases of discipline for non-compliance. It was not long, however, until the Church officials began to feel that the brethren had had plenty of time in which to reform, and especially that teachers among them were unworthy of the callings if they persisted in indulging in objectionable habits. The following statement was made by Patriarch Hyrum Smith, in 1842, almost exactly two years before his martyrdom:

“Tobacco is a nauseaous, stinking, abominable thing, and I am surprised that any human being should think of using it — for an elder especially to eat or smoke it it is a disgrace to him; he is not fit for the office; he ought first to learn to keep the Word of Wisdom, and then to teach others. God will not prosper the man who uses it.” (Times and Seasons, June 1, 1842, Vol. Ill, page 800.)

During the presidency of Brigham Young the Church leaders kept up a constant campaign in line with the Word of Wisdom. President Young himself taught in very positive terms the absolute necessity of compliance with the will of God in this matter. All of the other leaders down to and including the present head of the Church have felt and taught that members who are not keeping the Word of Wisdom are scarcely in full fellowship.

During the past decade a more and more rigorous attitude has been assumed toward members who persist in using tea, coffee, tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Instructions have been sent out by the First Presidency to the proper officers that no men either young or old shall be ordained to the Priesthood who use these substances. Instructions are also given that in the selection of missionaries no one must be recommended who uses them. Similar instructions have been given with respect to the selection of officers laboring within the Church at home. Admission to the temples, which is granted only to members in full fellowship, is refused to those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom. And, it might be added, these instructions are being very strictly followed.

To the average visitor among the “Mormon” people one of the most notable features is the almost complete absence of smoking. One could stand at the gates of the great tabernacle grounds in Salt Lake City at the dismissal of a special priesthood meeting, composed of both old and young men, and out of the thousands present could not see a single man who uses tobacco. The unstained whiteness of the old men’s beards and the general sweetness of person are features of which these people should be justly proud.

The “Mormon” people are not waiting for Deity to do it all. They believe that God will bring about his purposes through the operation of natural law, and that He expects them to do their part. And so they are striving daily to eliminate deterring factors, hoping that as each difficulty is overcome they will receive light and strength to go forward with the next.

When the whole truth of what these people have already accomplised becomes known, the results will be regarded as nothing short of marvelous. The remarkably low death rate of communities composed predominantly of “Mormons” is not alone due to climatic and sanitary conditions, as is proven by the fact that the death rate among Mormons is much lower than among non-Mormons living in the same communities. Naturally enough, not all of the “Mormon” people have been keeping the Word of Wisdom, and, in consequence, the average death rate of the whole body is above that of those who are faithfully performing their duties. Recent studies among large families who have kept the Word of Wisdom for three or four generations have yielded almost unbelievable results in the matter of low death rate and general absence of sickness.

Notwithstanding the wonderful success that has already been attained, the Church feels that there is yet much to be done. There still remain some few of the older members who must be induced, if possible, to abandon objectionable habits. Then again the great army of converts must be properly trained, and above all the welfare of the youth of Zion must be safeguarded. To this end the Church is using the strength of its wonderful organization. The Word of Wisdom is everywhere being preached by its elders, and in addition, it is being taught in its various auxiliary organizations, including the Primary, Religion Class, Sunday School, Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations, Relief Society and Church School System, so that practically every member of the “Mormon” Church is constantly in touch with its influence.

The blessings promised as a result of compliance with the Word of Wisdom and “obedience to the commandments” are just beginning to be realized. The Church is looking forward to the time when by right living, which means compliance with the laws of God, and, therefore, with the laws of nature, sickness, disease and distress will be removed. The Latter-day Saints believe that many of the weakness and imperfections of the human body are legacies born of the improper habits of their ancestors — that they are the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations — and they hope that by proper living, and the blessings of the Lord, sickness will eventually he eliminated and that the length .of the human life will be restored to the “age of a tree”.

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