Non-Churchgoers More Likely to Smoke Than Churchgoers, Says Gallup Poll

A poll conducted by Gallup has indicated that those who regularly attend church tend to be three times less likely to smoke as those who do not attend church.

Part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the poll was based off of an estimated 353,000 interviews conducted in 2012 with American adults aged 18 and over.

According to the findings, 30 percent of respondents who never attended church were smokers compared to 12 percent of respondents who attended weekly services.

Frank Newport and Igor Himelfarb of Gallup reported the findings Monday, concluding that smoking habits "highly correlated with religiosity…"

"This relationship holds even when controlling for demographic characteristics associated with smoking and church attendance," wrote Newport and Himelfarb.

"…an in-depth multivariate analysis shows that church attendance continues to have a statistically significant relationship with smoking even after controlling for the impact of [other factors]."

Erika Sward, director of National Advocacy at the American Lung Association, told The Christian Post that she found the Gallup poll results "fascinating."

"I think that anytime you can start to look at different ways and different thoughts on who is smoking and using tobacco products in a way that may help us prevent some of that I think it's a really good and interesting discussion," said Sward.

"We've known for a long time that there's a very close link between socio-economic status, education, and income primarily, and tobacco use. And that really is a causal relationship there."

Sward also told CP that, echoing Newport and Himelfarb of Gallup, while a correlation exist it does not necessarily equal causation.

"And so, it appears that there's some correlation here as well between tobacco use and religion but we shouldn't confuse that with causation," said Sward.

Other findings involved analyzing the breakdown of respondents into the religious categories of Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Muslim, and None.

Among those stating yes to being a smoker, Mormons ranked as having smallest percentage of smokers at 8 percent. They were followed by Jews (10 percent), Catholics (18 percent), Protestants/Other Christians (20 percent), Muslims (23 percent), and None (26 percent).

The poll also found that among respondents the frequency of worship service attendance played an apparent factor. For example, among Protestants 12 percent of those who attended church "at least once a week" were smokers, versus 27 percent who "seldom" attended or 34 percent who "never" attended.

Joseph A. Califano Jr., author of How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents, wrote about the value of religious belief in combating drug use.

"Whatever your religion-Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Protestant, or if you simply define yourself as spiritual-sharing your faith with your children will reduce the likelihood that they will abuse harmful substances," wrote Califano.

"Teens who consider religion to be an important part of their lives are far less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs. Faith is an effective substance-abuse-prevention tool because it offers people, including children, strength in the face of adversity."

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