But while the health aspects of the Word of Wisdom are well-known, what's less publicized is the fact that Joseph Smith actually warned us against the deceptive and persuasive advertising which would be used to make these substances attractive to people. Here's the applicable part of Section 89 below:
1 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—
2 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—
3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints, who are or can be called saints.
4 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—
5 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.
6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.
7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.
8 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.
9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.
10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
12 Yea, flesh also of beasts 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;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
First, let's look at verse 2. It states that the Word of Wisdom is sent by greeting rather than by commandment or restraint. What does that really mean? When Mormons sit for worthiness interviews from their priesthood chain of command, whether it be for a temple recommend, for mission service, or to accept a higher office within the Priesthood, they are asked if they observe the Word of Wisdom. If the answer is No, then the person will be denied the desired opportunity until he is in compliance. However, the individual will NOT be subject to formal Church discipline.
And therein lies the difference. If you break an actual commandment, such as adultery, you can be subject to Church discipline, which can result in probation, disfellowshipment, or excommunication. However, breaking the Word of Wisdom, since it's not a commandment, merely results in denial of a particular privilege, such as a temple recommend.
Now look at verse 4. This is where the warning against advertising is delivered. And it's definitely come to pass. Advertisers motivated by pure amoral profit show macho men and demure women consuming alcohol and tobacco in an effort to make these substances appear more desirable. Remember the "Marlboro Man"? A macho cowboy. What they didn't show were career smokers hospitalized with lung cancer or hacking their lungs out with COPD. They don't look very macho. Joseph Smith apparently foresaw this, and incorporated this into Section 89.
And finally, the health code itself. Remember, Joseph Smith received and delivered the revelation in 1833, and it is worded in context with the references of the time. As references changed and new substances were invented and marketed, various General Authorities issued subsequent supplemental guidance to keep the Word of Wisdom contemporary. Consequently, the harmful substances identified in Section 89 have been further defined as follows:
(1). Strong drink - any alcoholic beverage. This includes alcopops and 3.2 beer.
(2). Tobacco - any form of tobacco, smokable, chewable, or sniffable.
(3). Hot drinks - formally defined to mean coffee and tea. Decaffinated coffee and tea is O.K.
In addition, the General Authorities have since declared that the consumption of caffeinated soda and recreational drug usage also constitute violations of the Word of Wisdom. LightPlanet.com provides some more guidance. You can also read more authoritative Church guidance HERE.
The consumption of meat is authorized by the Word of Wisdom. However, Mormons are directed to use meat sparingly, since it requires that we take an animal's life. A diet rich in meat actually contributes towards obesity and other health problems. Those who really want to go the extra mile would consume meat only during times of cold weather or scarcity of grains and fruit. Don't forget, the Lord provided the ancient Israelites with BOTH manna AND quail. But Mormons aren't asked about meat consumption during a worthiness interview.
Compliance with the Word of Wisdom is required to be accepted for membership in the LDS Church in the first place, and to retain full membership privileges once in the system.