That’s what George Q. Cannon called it – “A Popular American Idol” – and he even provided a portrait to the readers of the Juvenile Instructor:
He described its body: “A tobacco hogshead, and its sides are casks of tobacco, on which are boxes of various kinds of cigars. On these boxes of cigars rest its arms, which are composed of clay tobacco pipes, and its outstretched fingers are formed of meerschaum pipes. Cigar holders are its neck, while its mouth is a box of cigars, its eyes are formed of tobacco pipe bowls, and the halo around its head looks like tobacco pipes.” The whole was shrouded by the incense of tobacco smoke offered up by its “hideous, wretched, miserable” devotees.
After a brief history of tobacco, Cannon enumerates his reasons for avoiding it, among which were:
Leeches, which are sometimes applied to suck the blood from bruised or inflamed parts of the human system, have been killed by the blood of tobacco smokers, so suddenly that they dropped off dead immediately after they were applied. If used freely, tobacco enfeebles the mind and weakens the powers of intelligence and of moral energy, and that vigor of intellect, one of the elements of which is memory. …
Walk through the cities where Tobacco is constantly used, and where the whole breathing atmosphere is saturdated with the malaria of Tobacco, and you will notice the slender form and sharp features of the young men. They are an inferior race. The flush of health is not on the cheek. …
It is only the other day that we heard of the death of an old acquaintance in the States. While eating, he accidently cut the side of his mouth with a fork. it was a trifling wound; but he was a smoker, and in smoking he poisoned the wound with nicotina, the poisonous alkaloid that is in Tobacco. From that slight wound he, though a very strong, healthy man, died.
What young man would want a Tobacco chewer or smoker for a wife? Many of the men think, however, it is very nice for them to chew and smoke, as though man’s breath was sweeter under such circumstances than woman’s would be! A young man would be ashamed to marry a woman who used Tobacco. Every young lady among the latter-day Saints should feel equally disgusted at the thought of marrying a man who chews or smokes.
Excessive smoking has had no small share in producing the degeneration of Spain. A Spaniard is scarcely ever seen without a cigar or cigarette in his mouth. … Spain was the first of all the European nations to adopt the use of Tobacco. She was then the foremost nation of Europe. …But now how changed! her people have lost their physical and intellectual vigor. …
Like the Spaniards, the Turks constantly indulge in the vicious habit of smoking Tobacco. And year by year they become more degraded physically and mentally. During the Crimean war the Turkish officers were found to be ignorant, lazy and indolent, constantly stupefied with Tobacco.
Ladies are not protected from the disgusting smell of Tobacco. There was a time when gentlemen thought it very bad manners to smoke in the presence of a lady. Now persons who claim to be well-bred smoke while riding with ladies, or while walking with them on their arms!
We need not go out of this city of Salt Lake to see such sights. We have silly boys and young men here who ape the strangers who come from the States, and who seem to think it is a manly accomplishment to smoke and chew filthy Tobacco. They act as if they did not believe the word of the Lord respecting Tobacco; but if they were less ignorant, they would know that the Word of Wisdom is literally true and given for their benefit. …
Every mother should teach her sons the Word of Wisdom, and the evil results of using Tobacco. Let it be banished from society, except for bruises and sick cattle as directed by the revelation. The foul odor of the breath of the Tobacco smoker and chewer, which is so offensive, should never ben known in our midst. The Idol Tobacco should never be worshiped by Saints. Let it, like every other idol, be thrown down and cast aside, and the Latter-day Saints become a pure, clean, healthy race of people, in whom the Lord will take delight.
The message was as clear as George Q. Cannon could make it! No worshiping at this shrine, brothers!