A high correlation exists between those who don’t go to church but do smoke.
“Smoking in the U.S. is highly correlated with religiosity, with those who never attend church almost three times as likely to smoke as those who attend weekly,” reported Gallup.
“The smoking rate is highest among Americans who have no formal religious identity,” said the polling group, which found that 26 percent of the religiously unaffiliated smoke.
Mormons and Jews had the lowest percentage of smokers while 18 percent of Catholics and 20 percent of Protestants smoke.
Theological doctrines and practices, addictive personality traits and church attitudes toward smoking were possible causes for the relationship between smoking and religiosity.
Gallup also found that smoking “increases in a linear fashion as church attendance decreases.”
For example, only 12 percent of Protestants smoke who attend church weekly. That compares to 27 percent of Protestant who seldom attend church and smoke.
Only 3 percent of the Mormons smoke who go to church “at least once a week” while 24 percent smoke who seldom go to church.
Upon release of the Gallup poll, Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, tweeted, “Good reason to go to church. Those who don’t go to church are 3X more likely to smoke than weekly church-goers.”
American houses of faith have a mixed historical record of speaking against smoking, save the Mormon faith, which prohibits smoking.
Home to big tobacco, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, has infrequently addressed the topic.
SBC adopted a report from its Social Service Commission in 1937 that read: “[T]he prevalence of smoking among Christian people, especially among preachers, church leaders and denominational workers, is not only detrimental to the health of those who participate, but is hurtful to the cause of Christ in that it weakens the message and lowers the influence of those who are charged with the preservation and spread of the Gospel.”
In 1984, the SBC adopted a resolution urging its members “to refrain from using tobacco in any form,” called on Southern Baptist tobacco farmers “to switch to another crop,” and encouraged Congress “to terminate all agricultural funding and subsidies to those who plant, grow, or sell any tobacco products.”
A 2005 resolution addressed teen smoking.