Q: My country is dependent on tobacco revenue. Are Seventh-day Adventists allowed to be tobacco farmers, traders or workers in the tobacco manufacturing companies? Also is it acceptable for Adventists to work in a beer brewing company, whether it be as a manager, an accountant, or some other position? — Kudzala, from Malawi
A: Kudzala, interestingly, very similar questions to yours were raised by the early Adventists in the 1860s. So many questions were asked that James and Ellen White answered them by issuing one of their very few joint statements. It was published in the Review and Herald, March 24, 1868 and was republished in the book “Selected Messages, Vol. 2,” p. 338:
“In answer to many inquiries, we would say that we believe there is business for Seventh-day Adventists to enter upon for a livelihood, more consistent with their faith than the raising of hops, tobacco, or swine.
“And we would recommend that they plant no more hops, or tobacco fields, and that they reduce the number of their swine. They may yet see it duty, as most consistent believers do, to keep no more. We would not urge this opinion upon any. Much less would we take the responsibility of saying, “Plow up your hop and tobacco fields, and sacrifice your swine to the dogs.
“While we would say to those who are disposed to crowd hop, tobacco, and swine growers among our people, that they have no right to make these things, in any sense, a test of Christian fellowship, we would also say to those who have these miserable things on hand, ‘If you can get them off your hands without great loss, consistency with the faith of this people whose publications and oral teachings have so much to say on the subject of reform, more than suggests that you should get them off your hands as soon as possible.’”
I encourage you to prayerfully consider the counsel given above as you think about whether or not a Seventh-day Adventist should be involved with companies that produce these highly injurious products.