Note: The following may appear to be outdated and obsolete in this century. But read it anyway and then think about the use and abuse of drug nicotine, or any other harmful substance and then think again. William L. Schwegler.
WHAT SMOKING HAS DONE FOR ME
After an extensive study, the
Surgeon General of the
The group reported cigarettes to be a major cause of lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. It left no doubt that smoking does measurably shorten life.
This committee observed 8,000 separate studies and of particular interest was a study of 422,094 American males ages 40 to 89. This study was conducted by the chief statistician for the American Cancer Society, Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond. Dr. Hammond has been conducting his study since 1954. In the later phase of his study he separated 19 factors which might conceivably have any bearing on the subject. He matched 36,975 pairs of men, as alike as possible in every way that was judged important: race, age, place of birth, religion, nervous tensions, martial status, etc. No matter how they were matched, smokers fared worse than non-smokers. Whether tall or short, married or single, drinkers or non-drinkers, the death rate from all causes was approximately twice as high for heavy smokers as for non-smokers. The lung cancer rate ran about nine times as high.
Here are some of the findings of the committee, comparing death rates of various pairings:
Death Rate per 100,000
Group Smokers Non-Smokers
Farmers 1,451 716
College Graduates 1,439 676
Short men 1,782 1,065
Tall men 1,481 687
This story is true. The individual who has called upon me to put it into writing has undertaken one of the bravest endeavors I personally have known. He has opened his life, heart, and total feelings to the public eye — all out of a deep love and desperate concern for those whom he prays will profit by his experience. Especially does he speak out to young people to whom he has dedicated this testimonial. He stood where many of them stand even now, and seeks to lead them around the quicksand into which so many are being led. This is a climactic venture of individual courage and fortitude, yet it is toned with pathos and despair coming from a brother sacrificing his final moments to make more certain the greener pastures of life for youth.
I have known this precious brother for thirteen years. As so many others, I feel and pray for him as my fingers move to speed his message to you, and letting him tell you what he now wants you to hear.
In deepest humility,
WHAT SMOKING HAS DONE FOR ME
A personal testimonial of Tom Medlock
as told to
My name is Tom Medlock. I am a real person and known by all those who
have been acquainted with me for the past 51 years which brings me to my
present age. I live in the city of
I have been acquainted with the church from about every position possible — and even to the elevated capacity as serving as an elder in the Lord’s church — the most responsible position given from Heaven to earth.
I have rejoiced again and again to see souls give themselves over to the Master. I was quick to rush to them and encourage them in the paths of salvation I, myself, have baptized several into Christ. Often have I listened to brothers or sisters pour out their hearts to me, or to both my wife Bonnie, and myself. The church has been the center of my entire life, with its God and among its people.
These were happy days, and I recall them in tender fondness — the little church where we worshipped, reared our family, and carried on our livelihood in the nearby grocery store just down the road from the church building. From here we came to know hundreds of people now our closest friends.
Of late, though, things have changed. Oh, how they have changed! You see, the happiness is gone. It is only a thing that once was. A tragedy has struck our home newly built in
the most scenic surroundings east of
The fact has come home to me with such tremendous force that there are no words to describe my feelings. Everything is gone. The past weeks have seen me going down hill rapidly and as I grow continually weaker, loving brethren in the Lord seek to console me saying, “We’re praying for you, Brother Tom; we’re praying for you.” But just who can pray hard enough when this hits you! I look out at life and back through time in a dismal fog telling myself it isn’t really so — the truth has surely not been told me! This can’t be me they’re talking about! No, no—not me
The doctors have exhausted every avenue. Even after extensive exploratory surgery and the maximum of cobalt treatments, they tell me in so many words that it is of little or no use. I must prepare for the worst. The doctors cannot save me. These are not cheerful notes for they contain no ray of hope. Death is coming my way far, far sooner than I had ever planned it. It seems I will not be with people much longer. I do not know when the moment will be. Only God knows. The doctors cannot say; but I know the verdict.
I recall that following the initial surgery, the head surgeon stood at the foot of my bed in tears. The doctor was crying; a thing seldom seen. How many operations had he performed? This one took its toll on him. He had utterly failed. The attending physicians had equally failed. All he could do now was relate the news.
The operation had consisted of removing a rib in opening the upper torso to reveal the roots of a malignant tumor in the right bronchial tube just as it entered the lung. It had spread about the heart so as to make removable surgery impossible.
It was when I had regained sufficient strength that I asked the question, “Was it smoking?” Though hesitant to confirm, four of my physicians replied, “More than likely.” You see, they knew what smoking could do. This is no doubt why they said, “More than likely.”
Oh, Johnny, Charles, Henry, or Mary, Carolyn, Pat, whoever you may be — don’t let my experience become your own! I recall when I was your age and just how it all came about. Let me talk with you about what nearly every smoker encounters when he tries to make peace with himself about his smoking — even though he is often fully apprised of its danger.
I personally began at age 13 because I thought it would make me look “big” and would be sort of a prestige symbol. Really, I didn’t have a craving to smoke. I just got curious and it looked “big”. The other boys were doing it and I didn’t want to be left out. I wanted to be one of the bunch. There was a feeling that smoking helps you into the gang. Abstainers are “sissies.” Let them call you “sissies.” It’s much easier than giving up your lungs, your happiness, your life. Boys and girls, I had rather handle a live rattle snake and risk being bitten, than one of those “cancer-sticks”. They can overpower you. They can eat up your God-given lungs that were meant to breathe only fresh, pure air.
I cannot, now that all this has transpired, stand the sight, the smell or the suggestion of those little poison “dragons” I once so thoughtlessly made a part of my wardrobe. Now my medicine chest is filled with pills to help me ease out the remaining moments, and they are precious. I want every one to count. This is the reason I am telling you this. My moments are ticking away.
Separate from the physical and emotional consequences there are other things I now look back upon. Somehow a “smoker” lets himself off the hook by reasoning “There are non-smokers who are in worse health than I am, so I’m safe.” “I can always take these things or leave them, so they don’t have control over me; I have control over them.” This makes you feel much better about it all. But you still find yourself going back to them. You see, they do take control over you and your body begins demanding them for you have introduced their venom into your system and nothing else will take its place. They do take control.
I smoked an average of two packages a day. When frustrated about my job or other things, I smoked more than two packs a day. Every morning, the first thing I would do would be to look for a cigarette. That “Almighty Cigarette” has now strangled my hope in life. Oh, young people please don’t listen to those deceptive television commercials and billboards that make it look so glorified and polished to have smoke curling from your lips and nostrils! It seems to me the cigarette people are primarily out for money, even at the ruthless cost of jeopardizing our life. What they don’t tell you about their products is that they have been overwhelmingly condemned by the committee appointed by the Surgeon General, and a committee approved by the tobacco industry itself, to be a major cause of lung cancer. The cigarette people can use the most subtle types of commercialization to draw you into their snare. They seek to get you to identify with every beautiful young actress, every gay blade who is “somebody in life”. Don’t fall for it! It’s a baited trap, and you are the victim.
Oh, sure, the argument goes that some have a physical system more susceptible to malignancy than others. Some have cancer anyway. Smoking has nothing to do with it. But if you’ll study carefully the report you’ll see the facts for yourself. The death rate from all causes was about twice as high for heavy smokers. . . And the lung cancer death rate ran about nine times as high. Who wants to argue with this? I repeat, I am a victim of lung cancer.
I don’t want to sicken you young people, but I wish the tobacco people could photograph together with their fanciful advertisements about smoking, the awful mess I cough up each morning from lungs charred by tobacco smoke. God Almighty did not mean for your tender lungs to be contaminated by smoke and nicotine. Webster defines nicotine: “a poisonous, oily liquid extracted from tobacco leaves.” May I repeat, “A poisonous ... liquid”! And the cigarette industry asks you to inhale it into your nostrils, mouth and lungs for a real refreshing taste! Seeing what has happened to me, it is difficult to restrain my temper knowing what they are endeavoring to do. Still, all I can do is warn you by reference to the Surgeon General’s report, many similar reports and my own ghastly experience. They have cigarettes that “cool you off” inside: that make you “distinguished”; that give you that “extra something” with the filter tip. I just invite the entire industry combined to come up with one cigarette out of their billions that cures people of lung cancer!
Young people, you have your entire
lives before you. I’ve worked with you
in the church. I’ve been with you in
personal troubles. I’ve talked with you
young boys who had the fortitude to enter the ministry. I have spoken on how wonderful it is for boys
and girls to get together in the church and have clean, wholesome Christian
recreation — keeping the
Yes, and I was an elder in the church of our Lord. And at the same time I was a heavy smoker. I taught regularly an adult Bible class and stood as an example for many others to see and follow. Oh, you elders of God’s flock — I appeal to you! Get rid of your cigarettes so you will set the right example for His holy people. Don’t tell them what to do and what not to do to avoid bringing a reproach on the church then inhale that unsightly poison before them! I appeal as one who was an elder. My effort shall not have been in vain if you throw away your cigarettes. The young people watch you and ignore the preacher. They have been taught enough to know that the elders have the over sight of the preacher and the rest of the congregation. When he is up in the pulpit preaching his heart out on purity — what do you suppose they think when they see you with smoke pouring out your face? They weigh the odds: the elders are older—they know better. The preacher is young, he has much to learn. He’s not to be taken seriously. Elder-friend, by your example you nullify everything you hire young preachers to preach. Do you realize this?
Be men enough to stop your smoking! Let it be a sacrifice — didn’t Jesus continually talk about sacrificing and denying self to follow Him? And you expect the congregation to follow you! My fellow-elders, smoking has cost me my life, why let it cost yours because of your unwillingness to give up nicotine poisoning?
You who are deacons, Bible class teachers, men and women — please stop smoking. I would in no sense feel qualified to make such an appeal to the church had I not been in the position as an elder, teacher, song director, and above all — an example before the church and the world as a Christian. I pray you to stop before you destroy both your health and example before our young people and the world. You are the best Christian some body knows. I just can’t in any sense conceive of that Christian charring his lungs with tobacco fumes. Can you see Jesus reaching down to pick up the fallen lamb from the crevice in the rock and a package of cigarettes falling from his garments? Indeed — then open your eyes to your power of example!
How crushing that members of the church have to “take a smoking break” between services and stand about the church house doors and cough and thoughtlessly breath nicotine breath upon others welcoming them to services. The only persons not taking notice of your tobacco breath are the other smokers in the church with you.
I don’t need to mention how repulsive it now seems to see a brother up at the Lord’s Table with a package of the things showing through his shirt pocket. Or crushing out his cigarette stub before getting up to lead in prayer. I don’t even want to think about it! You see, I was once in this very place myself.
Ah — and my poor, precious, ever-loving wife, bless her heart. Our tender years together are now shattered. She has been so brave. She doesn’t want me to see reflected in her kind, understanding face the times she has softly reasoned with me trying to get me off these deadly things that have now cut short my life. We think about it in silence. We try not to bring it up.
No doubt my friends will take the actual cause of my condition in different ways, but I am fully persuaded. I know from the expression on the doctor’s face, the painful concession of the medical staff — “More than likely” might as well have been, “Yes, all evidence seems to point to smoking.”
Well, what shall I say more? Our beautiful new home is now but a house, for
it’s the fond cherished memories that form the atmosphere we call home. This home will be without a husband, a Daddy,
a Grandfather. I’m crushed. Yes, and think of all the work I could yet do
I am growing weaker now. The doctors say the treatment has only arrested the growth momentarily, but it will flare up again. I am waiting. Time is fleeting by. And I speak from the depths of my soul that soon may be with God.
These last few weeks have been the longest of my 51 years. Let me personally testify that prayers have risen by the multitudes until I have seemingly felt the caressing tones rising about me seeking help from on High. I have read my Bible as never before. I have found it ever so easy to talk realistically with people about their souls. I think I have discovered a new dimension which can be found only by those who have to “rush in” and “see” if God is actually there. You know, we sort of keep a distance between ourselves and the real thing of which we speak because it seems to make us a bit uncomfortable to think about it in the sense of a last resort. We want to believe it but at the same time keep our distance. You may have to be here before you will actually understand what I am trying to say.
I honestly do not know what God’s answer will be in my particular case. I have received cards and letters and encouraging words without number with all manner of definitions for me to work with. I’m left alone in the hands of God. What the outcome will be is for Him to decide. He’s so tender, so real, and he so longs to bring us near to His side. Through the years I know that by means of the pulpit, through church bulletins and personal admonition, He was warning me about my smoking. But now it’s too late. I’ve stopped, yes, I’ve stopped. But, it’s too late. Too late.
I’m sorry, so terribly, terribly sorry. I seek your prayers for there is yet so very, very much for which to live. If His decision should turn in the direction of a glorious “break through” in my behalf, He’s made a believer of me that this body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is His, not mine.
When my heavenly Father takes me on, I have fully set my house in order. One of the greatest comforts of these days of increasing physical weakness is the assurance of forgiveness and hope found in God’s Word. Now, as never before, certain passages have taken on special meaning to me. My Lord said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3). I now know he was speaking of preparing a place, not only for the apostles, but for me.
I have come to understand better than ever Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I want every hour of life I have left to exemplify Christ. When God decides my time here is spent, I look forward to the greatest blessing of all: to gain a home in heaven. This is my prayer; my desire; my goal and my confident expectation.
Don’t destroy your lungs that were made to sing God’s praise and breathe in His pure outdoor air. You young people are so precious, so young, so full of opportunity, my request is simply this: leave the tobacco smoke out of God’s holy temple, your body. Close your eyes and ears to the cigarette commercials. Encourage everybody within your reach to stop smoking.
May I refer to the Surgeon General’s report: No matter what the match-up; smokers fare worse than non smokers. Short or tall, bald or hairy headed, Negro or White, natives or foreign born, drinkers or abstainers, married or single, the death rate from all causes was about twice for heavy smokers (a pack a day or more) as for non-smokers. And the lung cancer rate ran about nine times as high.
I know — for I was among them. I am now a helpless victim. God bless you, and my most earnest prayer is that my example may spare your life. The apostle Paul said, “If any man defile the temple of Cod, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”. (I Corinthians 3:17).
Fill it with Christ — but never the smoke from tobacco! Please — Listen!
At on the morning of
Between March and July, 1966, over 30,000) copies of Torn Medlock’s story had been distributed. Many more continue to go out each day. The tract has been read by individuals, in the pulpit, to Bible class groups and even in public school classrooms. Many letters of commendation and appreciation have been received by Tom Medlock, Stanley Sayers and the publisher.
At this writing, a record album is being prepared containing an introduction from Tom Medlock himself and a recorded narration of his story. We feel this will meet with the same enthusiastic reception as the tract. If either the tract or record help some one avoid the harmful effects of tobacco, the desire of Tom Medlock and the publisher will be fulfilled.