For members of the church, abstinence from tobacco and alcohol stems from a set of guidelines called the Word of Wisdom. The Word of Wisdom is a law of health revealed by the Lord that promises physical and spiritual benefits for all who follow it. These promises include wisdom and great treasures of knowledge and the ability to run and not be weary and walk and not faint.
When this law was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early days of the church, the medical and scientific world was unaware of the harmful effects of these substances. Only recently, have doctors caught up with the wisdom of the inspired words of this prophet of God.
Recent studies of the health benefits of living a Mormon lifestyle indicates that on average, Latter-day Saints live significantly longer. An article published in the Ensign magazine last year discusses decreased cancer deaths and the Word of Wisdom. The author, a doctor, says that the average Mormon male living in Utah lives 7.3 years longer than his non-LDS counterpart. LDS women live an extra 5.8 years. (Another study found LDS living 10 years longer.) You can read the rest of the article here.
As part of this health code, we also try to eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. We are to avoid illegal drugs and any substance that is not good for the body. You can read the full doctrine of the Word of Wisdom here.
I can remember trying to convince a friend of mine in middle school to stop smoking. I thought that because I didn't smoke I could beat him in a race. That wasn't the best bet to make, because he totally whipped me and proved me wrong! For me, the spiritual benefits of living by the Word of Wisdom are subtle, yet significant.
While not every person will be granted the ability to win a foot race, avoid cancer, or live as long as they'd like, everyone who lives by the code of health found in the Word of Wisom will enjoy an increased portion of the Holy Spirit in their lives. And everyone will have the ability to come closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.