Religion and smoking: A review of recent literature

International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine

Volume 3 - Number 43

Article Type: ---- Unspecified ----

Tobacco smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are a major threat to human health worldwide. The effort to prevent tobacco use should be regarded as an important public health strategy. Given the significance of religion and spirituality in the daily life of more than 90% of the world's population, the relationship of religion and smoking should be seen as a critical research area. Religions are many and varied, but most value human well-being highly and so do not approve of tobacco use, even though they do not prohibit it entirely. In recent years, researchers have shown more interest in the subject of religion and health, including drug and tobacco use. Differences of focus and methodology notwithstanding, most studies have ascertained a deterrent role for religion as regards tobacco use, and several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the negative relationship between religion or spirituality and smoking. Many of the studies, however, suffer from shortcomings that need to be acknowledged and addressed, such as using nonstandard data-gathering tools, lack of a unified definition of religion or spirituality, and paucity of research in non-Christian and developing countries. Finally, the cross-sectional nature of many of the studies makes the meaningful interpretation of findings difficult. (Int'l. J. Psychiatry in Medicine 2012;43:279-292)